Théodore Andre Monod and the lost Fer de Dieu meteorite of Chinguetti, Mauritania
U. B. Marvin, 2007. "Théodore Andre Monod and the lost Fer de Dieu meteorite of Chinguetti, Mauritania", Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel, P. N. Wyse Jackson
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Théodore Monod (1902–2000), of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, was a natural scientist with an extraordinarily wide range of interests and expertise. His early researches were chiefly in marine zoology, which he continued to pursue throughout his career. However, in 1923 he began to work in the Sahara Desert and travelled through it for thousands of kilometres on foot and camel-back collecting samples for the museum and keeping detailed journals of the geology, palaeontology, flora, fauna, prehistoric artefacts, and the customs and cultures of the peoples he met. Monod published nearly 700 technical articles in scientific journals and numerous books for general readers. He won innumerable honours in France and internationally, but only one of his books, few of his articles, and no biographical accounts of Monod's activities have been published in English. This paper focuses on his search for the Fer de Dieu, an iron meteorite said to be 40 metres high and 100 metres long, lying in the desert of Mauritania. He found no trace of it, but the meteorite remains legendary in the history of meteoritics.
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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.