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Accueil > Public-Presse > Histoire de la géologie à Monpellier

More than 200 years of geology in Montpellier

Research and teaching geology has been going onin Montpellier since th XVIIIth Century. The city already hosted the old School of Medicine and Pharmacy, established in the Middle Ages, when the Royal Society of Sciences was established in 1706. Later, Napoleon appointed the Faculté des Sciences on August 25th 1809, which comprised 7 Chairs, including the Geology and Mineralogy Chair, which makes it the oldest in France.

Marcel de Serres The first geologists were part-time scientists, but real encyclopeadists, who occupied stately or administrative positions. Marcel de Serres (1782-1862) Counselor to the Cour d’Appel de Montpellier spent his free time hunting butterflies and collecting fossils, when he was appointed to the first chair of Geology. .

Paul de Rouville , Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Sciences (1862-1894) produced the first regional geological maps (Carte géologique du Département de l’Hérault et introduction à la description géologique de l’Hérault , Montpellier 1876).

He also published one of the first geological section of the Pic St Loup.

Le Pic St Loup selon Pierre de Rouville

Edouard Roche
Edouard Roche, studied and became professor at the Faculty of Sciences of Montpellier in 1849. His works on physics and astronomy are still famous, but his contribution to Earth Science, although mostly unknown, was pivotal. He studied the kinematics of the Planet Earth and its fattenend poles, and he compared the whole density of the planet with the density of rocks at the surface. In 1881, he calculated the mass distribution within the Earth, which makes it the first Earth model with a core.


In 1964, the Faculty of Science moved out of the old city centre, into a wide campus north of the town, were the Université des Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc was built. Spacious geology laboratories accommodated many new researchers and students.

At this time, plate tectonics revolutionized every Earth science. Alongside, the classic geology, paleontology and hydrogeology, geophysics, then geochronology and geochemestry developed in Montpellier. Analytical and experimental facilities have never stopped growing ever since.

Montpellier geologists went exploring and studying the Sahara and all the existing and past mountains belts in the world, including the mysterious Tibet which opened to Montpellier geologists in 1980. Since the 90’ the Mantle and the Ocean have been added to the interests of local scientists. Finally, around the turn of the century, part of the scienific activity addressed society needs such as geologic hazards, natural environment and resources exploration and supply.