Margerie, Emmanuel Marie Pierre Martin Jacquin De

views updated


(b. Paris, France, 11 November 1862; d. Paris, 21 December 1953)

geology, physical geography.

Margerie came from a cultured Paris family that included several diplomats. He and his brother and sister received an excellent private education, and his childhood vacation travels awakened his interest in geology and geography. At fifteen he attended the lectures of Lapparent at the Institut Catholique in Paris and became a member of the French Geological Society. He took part, in 1878, in the first International Geological Congress in Paris. He did not complete any university training or take any examinations. While very young he began his study of foreign languages, especially German and English, and eventually he was able to read most other European languages as well. This ability was an important factor in his later scientific achievements.

Until the end of World War I, Margerie lived in Paris on an independent income. From 1918 to 1933 he was director of the Service Géologique de la carte d’Alsace et de Lorraine in Strasbourg. After his retirement, he returned to Paris, where he remained until his death. In 1903 Margerie married Renée Ferrer, who survived him. He was sympathetic, with a probing, analytic mind, and he unreservedly made available to his colleagues, especially the younger ones, his extensive knowledge of the international literature on geology and geography. He was a member—and often president—of more than fifty academies and learned societies throughout the world, and received numerous medals, distinctions, and prizes.

Margerie published 265 scientific works, primarily in regional geology, tectonics, and physical geography, as well as geographic and geologic cartography. Most of his publications were designed to make known the work of foreign researchers, to comment upon it, and to synthesize the results; and this was his forte. By virtue of the critical analyses and broad range of subjects, many of these publications were and continue to be of outstanding importance for the study of geology.

Among these works belongs Les dislocations de l’écorce terrestre (1888), which Margerie edited with Albert Heim. In this trilingual work (English, French, and German) the editors collected the technical terms, expressions, and concepts employed in geological tectonics, compared them with one another, and listed the corresponding words in the other languages. The lasting importance of this publication for tectonics was reflected in the decision of the 1948 International Geological Congress that the appropriate committee complete the work and bring it up to date.

Also in 1888 Margerie published a work on geomorphology, Les formes du terrain, written with General de La Noë, director of the Service Géographique de l’Armée. This book sets forth, for the first time, the causal relationship between the morphology of the earth’s surface, and its geological structure and historical development.

In 1896 Margerie published a reference work that is still of value, the Catalogue des bibliographies géologiques. But his great reputation among scientists stemmed from his six-volume French translation of Suess’s Das Antlitz der Erde (1897–1918). Executed with great empathy, and enlarged through many additional illustrations and bibliographical references, this edition enabled scientists who were not proficient in German to study Suess’s epochal work.

Margerie was also the author of many specialized geological and geomorphological studies. At the start of his career he published reports (1892, 1893), in collaboration with F. Schrader, on the geomorphological structure of the Pyrenees, which were a combination of his own fieldwork and a critical evaluation of older works. Soon afterward he studied the Swiss and French Jura and the result was the voluminous publication Le Jura (1922–1936). This work, which he himself held in especially high regard, is still indispensable for all studies of the Jura.

Margerie devoted a large number of individual studies to the geology and morphology of North America, made from observations gathered in the course of several trips. His last major work, Études américaines. Géologie et géographie (1952), is a critical survey of the most important geological works, the topographic and geologic maps, and the history of the United States Geological Survey, as well as a compendium of knowledge about the geological structure of the continent.

Margerie never visited Asia, but through a series of bibliographical analyses he brought the most important publications on Asia to the attention of an international audience. Notable among these was the analysis of the works of the Swedish explorer Hedin on the orography of Tibet (1928).

The 1922 International Geological Congress appointed a committee to prepare a geological map of Africa. Margerie was appointed director of the project because of his wide experience in cartography. The first sheet appeared in 1937, and the publication was concluded in 1952. Margerie was associated with the publication of another cartographic undertaking of international importance—the Carte générale bathymétrique des océans (completed in 1931).

Among Margerie’s last major publications were the four volumes of Critique et géologie (1943–1948). These, together with Études américaines, provide a retrospect of the author’s career, scientific goals, and accomplishments. Many colleagues and contemporaries, and their correspondence with him, are described in these volumes, which offer a deep insight into the history of geology and geography, and especially into the emergence and development of the leading ideas in these subjects in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


I. Original Works. Margerie’s works include Les dislocations de l’écorce terrestre (Zurich, 1888), written with G. de La Noë. With F. Schrader he wrote “Aperçu de la structure géologique des Pyrénées,” in Annuaire de Club alpin français,18 (1892), 557–619; and “Aperçu de la forme et du relief des Pyrénées,” ibid., 19 (1893), 432–453. He also wrote Catalogue des bibliographies géologiques (Paris, 1896); and, with several collaborators, La face de la terre, 6 vols. (Paris, 1897–1918), the trans. of Suess’s Das Antlitz der Erde. Other works include “Le Jura,” in Mémoires pour servirà l’explication de la carte géologique de la France, 2 vols. (Paris, 1922–1936); “L’oeuvre de Sven Hedin et l’orographie du Tibet,” in Bulletin de la Section de géographic des travaux historiques et scientifiques,43 (1928), 1–139; “Les dernières feuilles de la carte générale bathymétrique des océans (panneau du pôle nord),” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Acaémie des Sciences,192 (1931), 1689–1694, and in Bulletin de l’Institut océanographique,580 (1931), 1–6; Critique et géologie. Contribution à l’histoire des sciences de la terre, 4 vols. (Paris, 1943–1948); “Carte géologique internationale de l’Afrique,” in Comptes rendus…de l’Académie des Sciences,235 (1952), 591–592; and Études américaines. Géologie et géographic,I (Paris, 1952).

II. Secondary Literature. On Margerie and his work, see the anonymous article in Comptes rendus du Comiténational français de géodésie et géophysique (1955), 32–34; H. Badoux in Actes de la société helvétique des sciences naturelles,134 (1954), 347–348; P. Fourmarier, in Bulletin de la Société géologique de France, 6th ser., 4 (1954), 281–302, with a complete bibliography and portrait; S. Gillet, in Bulletin du Service de la carte géologique d’Alsace et de Lorraine,7 (1954), 5–7, with portrait; C. Jacob, in Comptes rendus …de l’Académie des Sciences,238 (1954), 20–23; E. Paréjas, in Archives des Sciences, 8 (1955), 69–70; and C. E. Wegmann, in Geologische Rundschau,42 (1954), 314–316.

Heinz Tobien