Aubuisson De Voisins, Jean-François D

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Aubuisson De Voisins, Jean-François D’

(b. Toulouse, France, 19 April 1769; d. Toulouse, 20 August 1841)

mining, geology, hydraulics.

Son of a squire, Jean-François d’Aubuisson de Voisins, and of Jeanne-Francoise Dassié, d’Aubuisson entered the Benedictine College of Soréze in 1779. In 1786, having won prizes in infinitesimal calculus, physics, and natural history, he was admitted to the Artillery School in Metz. D’Aubuisson was commissioned a second lieutenant on 1 January 1791 and spent the next six years in military service in Spain.

After the Treaty of Campo Formio, d’Aubuisson retired to Freiberg, where he taught mathematics. His civilian vocation was determined by Werner’s courses in mineralogy, geology, and mining, which he attended at the Bergakademie in 1800–1801, and field trips to Saxon mines. In 1802 he published the translation of a work by Werner, which he enriched with personal annotation. In the same year d’Aubuisson also published Des mines de Freiberg en Saxe et de leur exploitation.

Returning to France in 1802, d’Aubuisson attempted to enter the mining administration, although since 1795 it had been reserved for highly qualified graduates of the École Polytechnique who had spent two years at the École des Mines. He had an old Sorèze colleague, Antoine-Francois Andréossy, intervene for him. On Andréossy’s very first recommendation to the minister of the interior, d’Aubuisson was appointed to the mining administration on 20 January 1803 as assistant to Tonnelier, the curator of the mineralogical collections and library.

Like Werner, d’Aubuisson attributed the formation of the Saxon basalts to precipitates from the primeval sea. Since volcanists, as a result of the observations made in Auvergne by Guettard and Desmarest, regarded the basalts as the product of volcanic eruptions, d’Aubuisson decided to study the question by spending the summer of 1803 in Auvergne. He returned a convert to volcanism.

Andréossy again aided d’Aubuisson by proposing to the minister of the interior that d’Aubuisson would be of greater service if he were appointed a mining engineer. In March 1807 d’Aubuisson became mining engineer for the departments of Doire and Sesia, in the Piedmont, now part of Italy. He was promoted to chief engineer, second class, in March 1811 and was appointed chief of the mineralogical district of Toulouse less than two months later. There he served for more than thirty years in an administrative post covering the entire Pyrenees region.

In 1819 d’Aubuisson published Traité de géognosie, ou Exposé des connaissances actuelles sur la constitution physique et minérale du globe terrestre, the first competent treatment of general geology published in France. As a result of this book, on 5 February 1821 the Académie des Sciences named him correspondent for the Mineralogical Section, replacing the Abbé Palassou, whose death had been erroneously announced. When the mistake was discovered, the Academy decided that d’Aubuisson should retain his title.

Publications by English, German, and French authors soon considerably enlarged the scope of geology, and d’Aubuisson undertook a second edition of his Traité. The first volume appeared in 1828. Pressed for time, he entrusted the task of publishing the subsequent volumes to Amédée Burat, the first professor of geology at the École Centrale; Volume II appeared in 1834 and Volume III in 1835.

During the latter part of his career d’Aubuisson was compelled gradually to abandon his geological studies in order to attend to the major tasks that resulted from his living in Toulouse. He had to devote a great deal of time to the “miners” mine” of Rancié (Ariège), which he administered for thirty years. Intelligent, tenacious, self-assertive, and industrious, he was the prototype of the technical civil servant in a young state. Against the changes of the political regime, he symbolized the continuity of viewpoint of this state, working untiringly for the adaptation of the miners’ mine to the new economic situation. His work led to a pamphlet entitled Observations sur les mines et les mineurs de Rancié, et sur l’administration de ces mines (1818).

Aided by the engineer Marrot, in July 1825 d’Aubuisson found that in an airshaft the resistance to passage of the air is directly proportional to the length of the pipe and the square of the speed of the air flow, and inversely proportional to the diameter. He published these findings in two articles in the Annales des mines in 1828. These results served as the starting point for Théophile Guibal’s establishment of the temperature constant of a mine. D’Aubuisson also found that the volumes of two gases streaming from equal openings and under the same pressure are inversely proportional to the square roots of their densities. A further accomplishment was the establishment of a simple formula that made it possible to use cast-iron water pipes with walls half as thick as those previously used.

The nature of the technical problems he dealt with as municipal councillor induced d’Aubuisson to publish Traité du mouvement de l’eau dans les tuyaux de conduite (1827) and “Histoire de l’établissement des fontaines à Toulouse” (1830). His professional activities had caused him to reflect on many problems of hydraulics, and he summarized his experiments and thoughts on these problems in Traité d’hydraulique à l’usage des ingénieurs (1834)

On 2 August 1828, d’Aubuisson was appointed chief engineer, first class. Since he preferred to remain at Toulouse, he refused a transfer to Paris and thus lost all chance of rising to the rank of inspector general.


I. Original Works. D’Aubuisson’s writings include Des mines de Freiberg en Saxe et de leur exploitation, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1802); Nouvelle théorie de la formation des filons. Application de cette théorie a l’exploitation des mines, particulièrement de celles de Freiberg (Freiberg, 1802), his trans. of Werner’s Neue Theorie von der Entstenung der Gänge; Observations sur les mines et les mineurs de Rancié, et sur l’administration de ces mines (Toulouse, 1818); Traité de géognosie ou Exposé des connaissances actuelles sur la constitution physique et minérale du globe terrestre, 2 vols. (Paris, 1819), 2nd ed., completed by Burat, 3 vols. (Paris, 1828–1835); Considérations sur l’autorité royale en France depuis la Restauration et sur les administrations locales (Paris, 1825); Traité du movement de l’eau dans les tuyaux de conduite (Paris, 1827; 2nd ed., 1836): “Expériences sur la résistance que l’air éprouve dans des tuyaux de conduite, faites aux mines de Rancié, en 1825,” in Annales des mines, 2nd ser. 3 (1828), 367–486; “Expériences sur la trompe du ventilateur des mines de Rancié, suivies de quelques observations sur les trompes en général,” ibid., 4 (1828), 211–244; “Histoire de l’établissement des fontaines à Toulouse,” in Mémoires de l’Académie rovale des sciences, inscriptions et belles-lettres de Toulouse (1823–1827), 2 , pt. 1 (1830). 159–400; Traité d’hydraulique à l’usage des ingénieurs (Paris, 1834; 2nd ed., 1840, 1846; 3rd ed., 1858); and Tables à l’usage des ingénieurs et des physiciens. Tables de logarithmes (Paris, 1842).

D’Aubuisson’s many articles in the Journal des mines are listed in P.-X. Leschevin’s Table analvtique des matieres (Paris, 1813), which covers the first 28 vols., and in A.-C.-L. Peltier’s work of the same title (Paris, 1821), which covers the last 10 vols. (the name is spelled Daubuisson in the two works). The articles in the Annales des mines (the title of the Journal after 1815) are listed in the indexes for the 1st and 2nd ser. (Paris, 1831) under “D’Aubuisson” and in the index for the 3rd ser. (Paris, 1847) under “Aubuisson (d’).”

II. Secondary Literature. Works on d’Aubuisson are E. Brassinne, “Éloge de M. d’Aubuisson de Voisins,” in Mémoires de l’Académie royale des sciences, inscriptions et belles-lettres de Toulouse, 3rd ser., 1 (1845), 265–284; and René Garmy, La “mine aux mineurs” de Rancié 1789–1848 (Paris, 1943), pp. 117–133. Original materials may be found in Archives Nationales, Paris, F14.27122, and the Archives de la Guerre at Vincennes, in the dossier “D’Aubuisson de Voisins.”

Arthur Birembaut

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Aubuisson De Voisins, Jean-François D

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