31. Charpentier, Johann von (1786-1855)

Essai sur les glaciers et sur le terrain erratique du bassin du Rhône. Lausanne: M. Ducloux, 1841.


An erratic boulder, from Johann von Charpentier, Essai sur les glaciers, 1841.

Agassiz’s book was rich in illustrations of glaciers and moraines, but it had no images of erratic boulders at all.  Johann Charpentier was one of the originators of the glacial theory, having introduced Agassiz to the idea in 1836, and he was in fact somewhat miffed that Agassiz had beaten him into print.  For his treatise, he decided to concentrate on the origin of erratic boulders.   His book illustrates seven of these gigantic blocks, which sat, completely out of place, at various places in the environs of the town of Monthey, in the Valais region of Switzerland, just below Lake Geneva.  Each of these boulders, Charpentier argued, had been brought down from the high Alps by glaciers that once filled the area.

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