From 1920 to 1990, these brave geologists travelled through the Sahara from Mauritania to Libya and from Algeria to Niger. During these hikes across thousands of kilometres, often in very difficult conditions, they were able to trace the main features of the geology of these desert regions, they established stratigraphical sections of the main sedimentary provinces, discovered volcanic and eruptive complexes and drew geological maps of large areas.
Today, helicopters, four-wheel-drive vehicles, satellite observations and global positioning systems allow people to visit the most remote regions of the Sahara safely; however, geologists, naturalists and explorers like Chudeau, Kilian, De Lapparent, Monod made the most of their observations and discoveries thanks two essential auxiliaries: the camel and the goatskin bottle.
The portraits and the principal contributions to the geology of the Sahara of these four pioneers are presented here with maps of their itineraries.
Figures & Tables
In the last four centuries geologists have traversed the globe, searching for economically important materials or simply to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Geologists have often been at the vanguard of scientific exploration.
The microscopist Robert Hooke explored the Isle of Wight, and Charles Darwin the Cape Verde islands and parts of South America. The volcanic wonders of Italy and central France attracted native and foreign visitors including Lyell and Murchison. The Tyrrell brothers faced great hardship in northern Canada, as did the actor and mineralogist Charles Lewis Giesecke in Greenland. The development of Sydney, Australia depended on finding limestone for building. French geologists relied on camels in the Sahara, and Grenville Cole trusted his tricycle to carry him across Europe.
Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel focuses on the complexities of geological exploration and will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, historians of science and to the general reader interested in science.