1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Prévost, Constant

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PRÉVOST, CONSTANT (1787–1856), French geologist, was born in Paris on the 4th of June 1787, and was son of Louis Prévost, receiver of the rentes of that city. He was educated at the Central Schools, where, inspired by the lectures of G. Cuvier, Alexandre Brongniart and A. Duméril, he determined to devote himself to natural science. He took his degree in Letters and Sciences in 1811, and for a time pursued the study of medicine and anatomy. Mainly through the influence of Brongniart he turned his attention to geology, and during the years 1816–1819 made a special study of the Vienna Basin where he pointed out for the first time the presence of Tertiary strata like those of the Paris Basin, but including a series of later date. His next work (1821) was an essay on the geology of parts of Normandy, with special reference to the Secondary strata, which he compared with those of England. From 1821–1829 he was professor of geology at the Athenaeum at Paris, and he took a leading part with Ami Boué, G. P. Deshayes and Jules Desnoyers in the founding of the Geological Society of France (1830). In 1831 he became assistant professor and afterwards honorary professor of geology to the faculty of sciences. Having studied the volcanoes of Italy and Auvergne, he opposed the views of von Buch regarding craters of elevation, maintaining that the cones were due to the material successively errupted. Like Lyell he advocated a study of the causes or forces now in action in order to illustrate the past. One of his more important memoirs was De la Chronologie des terrains et du synchronisme des formations (1845). He died in Paris on the 17th of August 1856.

Memoir with portrait, by J. Gosselet, Ann. soc. géol. du nord, tome xxv. 1896.