The development of lithostratigraphy in the Alpine region during the early 19th century through the work of Giuseppe Marzari Pencati and Pietro Maraschini

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Vaccari, Ezio
Holding Date 15 September 2008

The substantial development of the geological studies in the mountain areas of north-eastern Italy is shown in the second half of the 18th century by the fieldwork undertaken particularly in the Prealps between Verona and Vicenza by Giovanni Arduino, Alberto Fortis, Girolamo Festari, Antonio Mastini and others. This research tradition was continued in the early decades of the 19th century by a new generation of geologists, mainly living in the Vicentine territory, who carried out new investigations on the lithology and stratigraphy of the prealpine and alpine area. Some of these scientists were well known outside Italy, as they had acquired their geological education in Paris (from the teaching, among others, of Alexandre Brongniart and Georges Cuvier) and were in correspondence with several European geologists: this was the case of Pietro Maraschini (1774-1825) from Schio and Giuseppe Marzari Pencati (1779-1836) from Vicenza, probably the most outstanding figures of this small but active ’regional’ scientific community.
Maraschini is mainly recalled in the histories of geology for his essay on the formation of rocks in the Vicentine prealps ("Sulle formazioni delle rocce del Vicentino", 1824), which enriched the works by Giovanni Arduino on the same mountain region and attracted the visits of some distinguished European geologists such as Brongniart himself; Marzari Pencati is known for his studies on the possible ways of intrusion of granite through the strata of limestone in the alpine area of Predazzo (south Tyrol), which prompted several geologists to visit the localities around Predazzo and led to a controversy with Leopold von Buch during the early 1820s. However both Maraschini and Marzari Pencati also produced an impressive amount of research in the field. The results of this work remained mainly unpublished, especially in the case of Marzari Pencati, but clearly emerge from the content of their correspondence and collection of manuscripts.
The aim of this paper is to provide a more detailed picture of the scientific activities of both these significant Italian geologists, based on the study of published and unpublished primary sources, in order to understand their contribution to the lithostratigraphy of the Alpine region within the European context of the first decades of the 19th century.