Studer, Bernhard

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(b. Büren, Switzerland, 21 August 1794; d. Switzerland, 2 May 1887), geology.

Studer, the son of Samuel Studer, a Protestant pastor, spent most of his youth in Bern, where his father had been appointed professor of practical theology in 1796 at the Bern Academy. To please his family, Studer agreed to study theology al though at the same time he became increasingly interested in mathematics and science. After earning his theology degree, he decided to study these subjects,first at Bern and then, from 1816 to 1818, at Göttingen. He then returned to Bern to teach mathematics at the municipal Gymnasium. He was later given a post at the Bern Academy, where, in addition to mathematics, he taught physics, mathematical geography, and mineralogy. His teaching and publications made him well known, and, shortly after its founding in 1834, the University of Bern offered him the professorship of geology and mineralogy, which he held until his retirement in 1873.

Studer’s scientific writings are devoted to the geology of Switzerland, particulary to the Swiss Alps. In his first major work, on the Molasse (1825), he showed himself to be a master of careful, precise observation and clear presentation. His other major publications include Geologie der westlichen Schweizer Alphe (1834) and “Die Gebirgsmasse von Davos” (1837). With Arnold Escher von der Linth, his lifelong friend and collaborator, Studer wrote Geologische Beschreibung von Mittel-Bündten (1839). This work, as well as a number of subsequent ones, culminated in 1853 in a further collaboration with Escher: the first geological map of Switzerland. (It was on a scale of 1:380,000; a second edition was published in 1869.) The map was based on painstakingly detailed observations and thorough preliminary studies made throughout the country. Before its appearance, Studer published a text designed to accompany it, entitled Geologie der Schweiz (1851–1853); together, map and text constitute the crowning achievement of Studer’s scientific work. The Geologie contains the first comprehensive description of the structure of the Swiss Alps, which have been of extraordinary importance for understanding the formation of the former and existing mountains of the world, and represents the point of departure for all later synthetic accounts.

In the following years Studer devoted great energy to editing a geological map of Switzerland on a scale of 1:100,000, four times greater than his earlier map. The research on this map, which was based on Dufour’s excellent topographical map, was conducted by a geological commission created for this purpose and placed under Studer’s direction. (This commission still exists as the Swiss Geological Commission and is responsible for national geological surveys.) The new map ultimately consisted of twenty-one sheets, the first appearing in 1865, the last in 1887, on the day of Studer’s death.

Besides his geological works, Studer wrote text-books on physics and mechanics and on mathematical and physical geography. He was also the author of an extensive history of the physical geography of Switzerland. With Escher, he was one of the founders of modern Alpine geology in Switzerland.


I. Original Works. Besides many articles and papers, Studer published a number of larger works: Beyträge zu einer Monographie der Molasse . . . (Bern, 1825); Geologie der Westlichen Schweizer Alpen (Heidelberg, 1834), with 5 plates and a geological map: “Die Gebirgsmasse von Davos,” in Neue Denkschriften der Allgemeinen schweizerischen Gesellschaft für die gesamten Nautrwissenschaften, 1 (1837), with 3 plates; Geologische Beschreibung von Mittel-Bündten (Bern, 1839), with 2 plates and 3 maps, written with A. Escher von der Linth; Geologie der Schweiz, 2 vols. (Bern-Zurich, 1851–1853); Einleitung in das Studium der Physik und Elemente der Mechanik (Bern, 1859); Geschichte der physischen Geographie der Schweiz bis 1815 (Bern-Zurich, 1863); and Index der Petrographie und Stratigraphie der Schweiz und ihrer Umgebungen (Bern, 1872).

II. Secondary Literature. On Studer and his work, see A. Daubrée, “Notice sur les travaux de M. Studer,” in Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de I’ Académie des sciences, 104 (1887), 1203–1205; C. W. von Gümbel, in Neue deutsche Biographie XXXVI (Leipzig, 1893), 731–734; Albert Heim, Geologie der Schweiz, 1 (Leipzig, 1919), 7–8, with portrait; H. Hölder, Geologie und Paläontologie in Texten und ihrer Geschichte (Freiburg im Breisgau-Munich, 1960), Passim; J. W. Judd, “B. Studer,” in Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, 44 (1888), 49–50; R. Lauterborn, “Der Rhein. Naturgeschichte eines deutschen Stromes . . .,” in Berichte der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft zu Freiburg im Breisgau, 33 (1934), 110–113; L. Rütimeyer, “Prof. Bernhardt Studer,” in Verhandlungen der schweizerischen naturfor-schenden Gesellschaft, 70 (1887), 177–205; R. Wolf, “Notizen zur schweizerischen Kulturgeschichte,” in Vierteljahrsschrift der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Zürich, 32 (1887), 90–104; and K. A. von Zittel, History of Geology and Palaeontology, Maria M. Ogilvie-Gordon, transl. (London, 1901), passim.

H. Tobien

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Studer, Bernhard