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Prospection (page 3)


At the time of its return trip in France JJ Garnier makes a stay prolonged enough in Tahiti and this enables him to study the geological composition of it. With this end he walks around the island, goes up the main valleys and collects on its road samples and notes. In France, its collection is deposited in the permanent exhibition of the marine and the colonies. Moreover he establishes a map and sections of the geology of Tahiti and its dependences The geological investigation of these territories had been neglected apart from the outline that the American scientist Dana had written following a great expedition undertaken in the Pacific Ocean under the auspices of the government of the United States.

We will give only some samples of the remarks that he made during his perilous experience : "The island of Tahiti as a whole is due to a series of volcanic eruptions which took place at different times and sometimes very distant from each other which one easily notes either by various natures of the eruptive rocks or by denudations that had time to undergo old layers before being covered by news or finally by the superposition of younger flows on oldest common basalt seems more abundant on this peninsula of Ririi than on the others and its remains often strew the shores there; in these areas, sands are also extremely rich in oxydulé iron and titanic iron; the first, out of octahedral crystals, sparkles the ground under the sunlight.

One meets same sand in other districts of the island... It is Vancouver who discovered the Rapa island in 1791 but, no more than the visitors who succeeded to him he does give information about the geological constitution of this island and one would probably have remained a long time without being informed of anything if one of the natives who live they're coming to Tahiti in 1867, had let the representative of the French government in this island known that there were layers of coal in Rapa...

One made divert the brook and clear the layer on all his thickness and on a width of 5 to 6 m: the layer is two meters to two meters fifty thick, its direction is N 40 degrees E, it is tilted 15 degrees south-east or North-West; it lies directly on a basalt seam; it is in mixed irregular beds of veins and with blocks of clay, it is covered by a talus of landslide entirely formed with variously colored clays... The lignite extracted from this layer came out in compact masses, with laminated texture, without traces of plants; its break was esquilleuse, dull, of color black grayish. The compactness of this fuel was variable; with the forging mill it burned like the charcoal and could give enough heat for the welding of iron although it was necessary a rather long time so that iron has the heat which is necessary for him for the welding…"

In another work entitled ": Excursion around the island of Tahiti ", JJ Garnier tells the exploration of a curious underground gallery in the district of Haapape. It is about a cave opening at the day in a vertical wall of lava, slags and ashes superimposed. It arrived there while rising to the force of the arms along a strong liana that one of its guides had gone to attach to the trunk of a small tree which pushes above the entry: it is about the mouth with fire of an extinct volcano. Its gallery, deep of more than 200 meters were of a maximum width of 1 m 20. The account ends in the visit with the queen Pomarée IV and on the regret that ethnographic, linguistic studies of these areas did not hold the attention of the European nations yet. At the Company of the Civil engineers, he presents successively in 1891,1896 and 1900 three reports taking again its observations of prospect on minerals dedicated respectively to Gold and Diamond in Transvaal and the Cape, the Mines of Nickel, Cuivre and Platinum District of Sudbury (Canada) and in Australia Occidental, this last with the collaboration of his loved son, Pascal, Civil engineer, Explorateur, deceased in Coolgardie (Australia) of the typhoid fever in 1898 at the of 26.

However we will start chronologically with the " Excursion with the country of the Cossacks of the Gift " in an account going back to 1882 and consigned to Volume III of the Bulletin of the Company of Geography and of which I raised the extracts which appear interesting to me: " … the part of the territory of the Cossacks of the DON whom I particularly visited at the end of the year 1881 is the known part under the name of Donetz which has contained layers of coal exploited for a few years with an increasingly large activity.

This rich coal field , forms part of the immense plain which extends since the Ural river to the mouth from Danube and which, to the south, the mountains of the Caucasus and Crimée mark the boundary.. It is under the reign of 'Pierre le Grand' that the coal was discovered and the tradition reports that the prince attached much importance to these mines of which he envisaged the future… The basin includes crystalline grounds, carboniferous, Permian, Jurassic, cretaceous, tertiary and alluvial. Several metals such as iron, copper, lead argentifère… are met in these various grounds. In spite of the abundance and the good quality of the coal which yields it of nothing to best as I could note it by the experiment and the analysis, the resources hardly start to be put in thorough exploitation… while the railways are established with speed, the coalmines go get every day to a good industrial level as I could note it everywhere and mainly in the mines of Makeeva, those of Mining and Industrial Company of Parès whose director, Mr Baer, French engineer, reserved to me an excellent reception"

He is concerned with the way how to transport ore, how to evacuate it by sea, which could be lower cost solution, volume extracted, exported, competing with the English and how, as well as possible, solve the problems of the work force, its food, taking into account the agricultural production thwarted by the climate, the harmfull effects, the damage caused by cockroaches in particular, etc. "The heavy work to which they are subdued, the bad weather of this hard climate, the long fasts in the event of food shortage made of the Russian a powerful being to the physic but resigned to moral and that more especially as it is of major ignorance: but, that must not bee mistaken : there is an enormous spring in this people unsullied of any civilization; under the influence of an idea, its fanaticism would make it frightening even to the powers which are more appreciated about method, science and all the progress of the day… thus, would I advise my young compatriots not to be let rejected by the climate or the language of this vast region where there is so much to make; our only quality of Frenchmen holds a good reception for us and we can bring our help without making up any susceptibility among Russian patriots !"

Here is a remark which, if one traveled several times to Russia(as I did), appears quite perspective and confirmed but sounds also like a kind of warning : one remembers at which point the two last Romanof ignored their subjects, especially the Tsar reigning on this date 1882, Alexander III, who instituted 'chefs ruraux' and accelerated the 'contre réformes'. I still think about the sentence of book IV of the Odes of Horace chosen at the beginning of this book : " Est animus tibi rerumque prudens and secundis dubiisque temporibus rectus." "You have a soul knowing things, going right in favorable times and the difficult ones."

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