Brochant De Villers, André-Jean-Fran

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Brochant De Villers, André-Jean-François-Marie

(b, Villiers, near Mantes, France, 6 August 1772; d. Paris, France, 16 May 1840)

geology, mineralogy.

Brochant warmly supported Haüy’s theories of crystal structure, although his writings also aided in the diffusion in France of A. G. Werner’s mineral classification and nomenclature, as well as the early crystallographic ideas of C. S. Weiss. Wernerian principles influenced his geological memoirs, which were concerned exclusively with the geology of the Alps. He devoted the last two decades of his life primarily to the preparation of a geological map of France.

Brochant studied mineralogy under Werner at Freiberg from 1791 to 1793 and entered the newly organized École des Mines in 1794. He became an engineer in the Agence des Mines in 1800 and an editor of the Journal des mines in 1801. In 1804 Brochant was named professor of geology and mineralogy at the École des Mines, at that time located at Pesey in Tarentaise (Savoy), and he retained this post when the school was moved to Paris in 1815. He then became a member of the Académie des Sciences, a director of the glass factory at St. Gobain, and later inspector general of mines.

Stimulated by the publication of Greenough’s geological map of England in 1822, Brochant pleaded successfully for the preparation of a similar map for France. After a preliminary journey to England with his collaborators, Armand Dufrénoy and Élie de Beaumont, to establish procedures, Brochant began the survey in 1825. During the next ten years, Élie and Dufrénoy made summer field trips, the former in eastern France and the latter in western France, while Brochant supervised the work and compiled the results. He published a report on the project, “Notice sur la carte géologique générale de la France,” in the Comptes rendus (1 [1835], 423–429). The completed map was published in 1841, after his death.


I. Original Works. Brochant published two works in mineralogy: Traité élémentaire de minéralogie, suivant les principes du professeur Werner, 2 vols. (Paris, 1801–1802; 1808); and De la cristallisation considérée géométriquement et physiquement, ou traité abrégée de cristallographie (Strasbourg, 1819). In geology he compiled a four-volume Mémoires pour servir à une description géologique de la France (Paris, 1830–1838); published posthumously was his Explication de la carte géologique de la France, rédigée sous la direction de M. Brochant de Villiers… par M. M. Dufrénoy et Élie de Beaumont (Paris, 1841). Brochant’s most important geological memoirs were “Observations géologiques sur les terrains de transition qui se trouvent dans la Tarentaise et autres parties des Alpes,” in Journal des mines, 23 (1808), 321–380; “Observations sur les terrains de gypse ancien qui se trouvent dans les Alpes,” in Annales des mines, 2 (1817), 256–300; and “Considérations sur la place qui doivent occuper les roches granitoides du Mont Blanc et d’autres cimes centrales des Alpes dans l’ordre d’antériorité des terrains primitif,” ibid., 4 (1819), 283–300.

II. Secondary Works. Brochant is discussed in Alfred Lacroix, “Notice historique sur le troisième fauteuil de la section de minéralogie,” in Académie des sciences—séance publique annuelle du lundi 17 décembre 1928 (Paris, 1928), pp. 18–26.

John G. Burke

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Brochant De Villers, André-Jean-Fran

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