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"A landmark in the history of geology" (DSB)

CUVIER, Georges and Alexandre BRONGNIART.
Description géologique des environs de Paris ... Nouvelle édition, dans laquelle on a inséré la description d'un grand nombre de lieux de l'Allemagne, de la Suisse, de l'Italie, etc., qui présentent des terrains analogues à ceux du bassin de Paris.
Paris and Amsterdam, G. Dufour and E. d'Ocagne, 1822. Large 4to (30 x 22.5 cm). With a folding hand-coloured engraved map, a folding engraved plate, and 16 lithographed plates (1 hand-coloured). Modern half morocco.
€ 1,500
First edition of the wholly revised and expanded version of the Géographie minéralogique des environs de Paris (1808), "a landmark in the history of geology" (DSB III). In this work the zoologist and palaeontologist Cuvier (1769-1832) collaborated with the geologist Brogniart (1770-1847), who did most of the work, in surveying the region of the Paris basin to determine the order of the strata in which Cuvier had found fossils, to determine their relative ages. "The significance of Brongniart's stratigraphy of the Paris "basin" was quickly recognized. The general nature of stratified sedimentary rocks and the importance of observing their order of superposition were commonplaces in geology before his time. The highest, and therefore most recent, stratified deposit that could be recognized over a wide area was the Chalk, … Brongniart's work proved that above the Chalk was a complex series of stratified rocks, many of them evidently formed by very slow deposition. By implication, therefore, the time that must have elapsed since the end of the Chalk period was greatly extended … Second, the strata showed an alternation between marine and freshwater conditions, countering the earlier assumption that all stratified rocks had been deposited in a gradually shrinking ocean... The third important feature of Brongniart's stratigraphy was his use of fossils for the detailed correlation of strata. ... Brongniart's work demonstrated the value of precisely collected and identified fossils as criteria for tracing a detailed series of strata, ..." (DSB II). By 1822 Brogniart "had travelled widely enough to be able to describe strata, equivalent to those of the Paris region, from many different parts of Europe" (DSB II). All this new information, together with the information published in the Géographie minéralogique was compiled to form the the Déscription geologique des environs de Paris.
With a few pencil annotations. Binding slightly worn at the extremities. With the half-title foxed and discoloured, a water stain in the outer margin of the final 20 pp. and the folding-plates with some tears; a good copy.
For the authors: DSB II, pp. 493-497 & III, pp. 521-528.
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Related Subjects:

Europe  >  France, Greece & Italy
Natural history  >  Fossils / Palaeontology
Science & technology  >  Earth Sciences