Swiss Val de Bagnes

Gerelateerde afbeelding

In i815, in the Swiss Val de Bagnes, below the Pennine Alps, a mountaineer remarked to a geologist that all those big boulders standing around in odd places had been carried there by a glacier long since gone. The mountaineer’s name was Perraudin. He was a hunter of chamois. The geologist was Jean de Charpentier. He did not believe the hunter and ignored the information. In Europe, Noah’s Flood had for so long been regarded as the principal sculptor of the earth that almost no one was inclined to hazard an alternative interpretation. If boulders were out of touch with bedrock of their type, diluvian torrents had moved them, or flows of diluvian mud. In 1821, a Swiss bridge-and-highway engineer named Ignace Venetz told the Helvetic Society of Natural Sciences that he believed what the mountaineer had told Charpentier. He believed, in addition, that boulders had been scattered all over Switzerland by glaciers co-working space amsterdam of “hauteur gigantesque” from “une epoque qui se perd dans les nuits des temps.” Venetz was ignored, too-until Charpentier decided, twelve years later, that his suppositions were probably correct. Charpentier caused Venetz’ s paper to be published and meanwhile went out to gather, name, and classify evidence of moving ice: erratic boulders, striations and polish on bedrock, lateral and terminal moraines. In 1834, he submitted to the Helvetic Society his “Notice sur la Cause Probable du Transport des Blocs Erratiques de la Suisse,” which was also ignored, not to say ridiculed. Charpentier was political in the scientific world. Great “savants” like Leopold von Buch and Alexander von Humboldt had been classmates of his at the Freiberg Mining Academy. He lived above Lake Geneva in the alpine valley of the Rhone. Savants collected in numbers at his table. In the summer of 1836, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, a professor of natural co-working space rotterdam history at the College of N euchatel, took a house up the road. Agassiz was only twenty-nine years old, but he had done work in paleontology for which he had earned a considerable reputation. He had travelled, too. He had become a protege of von Humboldt. He had worked in Paris for Georges Cuvier. And like von Humboldt, von Buch-like everybody else who had heard about the theory of the ice-he thought it absurd.