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Diary (page 8)


It is there the look of an ethnologist especially as in other places of this " Travel diary " appears a description of the physical characteristics of these men and women Kanak, features, their remarkable abilities in the fishing, in hunting, in the fight and the compared to the aborigines of Australia; one does not find concession in the colonial prejudices of time or in the exoticism of the time in this modern glance. Somewhere else there are pages of a naturalist describing holothuries, dugong, enormous maritime animal, the pigeon notou, the endemic botanical species, the notes of a completely available lucid traveler, open minded to the event who draws, photographs, gives evidence. He is interesting to compare this travel account in particular with the " Second journey of the Captain Cook ", the narration of d' Urville, the one of the Major Ulysses de la Hautière on the aviso " Coëtloguen", or even " L'évadé " of Victor Henri de Rochefort. One would see how much tone differs.

However, the main purpose of this mission in New Calédonia had been the geology of the island and the search for mines. He was prepared well for it having spent two years before the journey as Engineer in the factories of " Steelworks of the navy and the railroads " and having conducted during 3 months a geologic study in Sardinia in 1862. He returns in France in 1867 welcomed warmly in the Navy ministry and receives the Legion d' Honneur nearly 28 years old. He puts himself immediately at work by:

     1. Publishing, especially in the Geography Society secretary of which he will become later Secretary, one " Essay on the geology and the mining resources of New Caledonia " a geologic map and the equivalent about " Oceania and islands Tahiti and Rapa " where he had made a stop on his way back.

     2. By trying to introduce in the mind of metalworkers evidence of the interest of the use of the nickel in metallurgy industry, which was not- as we are going to see it the easiest part...

     3. By working out the extraction of the nickel from the raw ore and by set up a smelting works in Nouméa in 1877 then, later in Septèmes in 1880.

On each of these points it is important to let him express himself  "From 1863 till 1867, I had to go through New Caledonia as geologist and I often met in my trips, especially in the south-east and east of the island of masses of green rocks which particularly drew my attention. In chemistry, the nickel is characterized by "précipités" apple green. So the color of these rocks strongly suggested me the presence of nickel especially since I was convinced that this coloring did not belong to copper. I brought back in France some samples of these green rocks and the scientists to whom I presented them: Mister Jannetaz who helped me in the classification of my collections and Terreil, chemist in the Museum did not delay assuring me that I had discovered a real nickel absolutely new by its nature and its abundance.

While I was still in New Caledonia, I had sent also to the American professor Dana, well known mineralogist some samples of this strange mineral; he wanted indeed to study it at close range... These studies brought him to notice that were" hydro silicates" of nickel and magnesia, in defined composition but more or less mixed with a ferruginous and siliceous gangue.

The ore was new. Dana published the description of it in his 5-th edition of mineralogy and wanted indeed to give my name to this ore, he called it "garnierite". One did not possess at this moment to day's current sophisticated processes for the tests of metals, but the engineers, the foremen and the workers knew very well how to recognize by striking a metal on the anvil which were its qualities. And so I recognized at once that nickel presence gave to the iron a bigger resistance... I hurried so to publish my results and in one of my papers dated on February fifteen, 1876, I said: " The nickel can give to the iron hardness, makes it rustproof and does not harm in its malleability. I save myself so on purpose the use of iron, cast irons, melted irons and alloyed steels with a small nickel proportion. I claim specifically all these applications of nickel in the ferrous metallurgy, whether one uses it in crucible, on Bessemer or on the soles of reflector ovens."

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