Mines ParisTech, 60 Boulevard Saint-Michel, 75006 Paris, France
Beginning in 1869 Marcel-Alexandre Bertrand attended the Ecole des Mines de Paris (now Mines ParisTech).
Société géologique de France, 77 Rue Claude Bernard, 75005 Paris, France
In 1890 Marcel-Alexandre Bertrand was named the president of the Société géologique de France.
French Academy of Sciences, 23 Quai de Conti, 75006 Paris, France
In 1896, Marcel-Alexandre Bertrand was elected to the French Academy of Sciences.
In 1903, Marcel-Alexandre Bertrand was awarded the Legion of Honour.
Bertrand studied at the École Polytechnique, and beginning in 1869 he attended the Ecole des Mines de Paris (now MINES ParisTech).
After graduation, Marcel Alexandre Bertrand worked in the Geological Survey of France, and in 1886 he succeeded his teacher Béguyer de Chancourtois at the École des Mines (now Mines ParisTech). In 1896 the Académie des Sciences elected him to the chair Pasteur had held.
Inspired by the writings of Eduard Suess, Bertrand always maintained a concern for what he called the grand problems of general geology. Early in his career, he devoted his attention to the general problems of mountain structure while producing a dozen sheets of the geologic map of France. He solved the anomaly of le Beausset by discovering that the islands of Triassic sediments resting on Cretaceous formations are the eroded remains of an enormous overturned fold. His conception of very large-scale overturned folds and over-thrusts related the geological structure of Provence to that of the Alps. Bertrand was the first to conceive of the overthrust structure of the Alps, and by this theory of grandes nappes he attempted to connect the structures of the Pyrenees, Provence, and the Alps.
Bertrand developed an orogenic wave concept that he used to separate earth history into natural divisions on the basis of successive periods of intense folding and orogeny, each division identified with a chain of mountains. Working from Suess’s brilliant synthesis, Bertrand demonstrated in 1887 that the Caledonian, Hercynian, and Alpine deformation produced consecutively those three mountain chains, thus building up the European continent gradually from north to south.
In 1894, at Zurich, Bertrand offered his very original conception of the complete sedimentary cycle with its recurring facies; each cycle represented one of the fundamental deformations. He showed that four kinds of facies are repeated in the different mountain chains, typically gneiss, followed by schistous flysch, then coarse flysch and coarse sandstone. At this time he also added the Huronian orogeny of Precambrian time to the other three deformations. In essaying a mechanism for these orogenies, Bertrand revived, then abandoned, the tetrahedral plan of the earth of Lowthian Green and Michel- Lévy. Marcel-Alexandre Bertrand died on April 13, 1907, in Paris, France, and was buried in Cimetière de Montparnasse, Paris.
Quotations: "The idea of making a fault a subject of study and not an object to be merely determined has been the most important step in the course of my methods of observation. If I have obtained some new results it is to this that I owe it."
In 1886, Marcel-Alexandre Bertrand married Mathilde Mascart, by whom he had several children.