Élie de Beaumont, Jean Baptiste-Armand-Louis-Léonce

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Élie de Beaumont, Jean Baptiste-Armand-Louis-Léonce


Born Sept. 25, 1798, in Canon, department of Calvados; died there Sept. 21, 1874. French geologist. Member of the Académie des Sciences in Paris (from 1835). Corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1857).

Élie de Beaumont graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique in 1819 and then studied at the Ecole des Mines in Paris. He became a professor at the Ecole des Mines in 1827 and at the College de France in 1832. In 1853 he was appointed secretary for life of the Académie des Sciences.

Élie de Beaumont conducted geological studies in Great Britain, France, and Italy. With O.-P.-A. Dufrénoy, he published a geological map of France in 1841 and compiled major compendi-ums of its geological structure. He suggested the contraction hypothesis in 1829 and developed it in detail in 1852 (seeCONTRACTION HYPOTHESIS). Élie de Beaumont developed a technique for determining the age of folded regions by stratigraphic breaks and angular unconformities. As a follower of G. Cuvier’s theory of catastrophes, he explained each break in the stratigraphic record by an upheaval, counting 32 catastrophes in the history of the earth. He assigned the volatile components released from magma an important role in the processes of ore formation, discerned a connection between the formation of metal ores and intrusions, introduced the concept of basic and acidic rocks, and studied the distribution of chemical elements in the earth’s crust, meteorites, and organisms.


Notice sur les systèmes de montagnes, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1852.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.