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Comptes Rendus Géoscience
Volume 344, n° 10
pages 526-534 (octobre 2012)
Doi : 10.1016/j.crte.2012.09.001
Received : 18 April 2012 ;  accepted : 7 September 2012
Des « cailloux roulés » basaltiques haut perchés à l’histoire du Rhône : observations et spéculations de Gui de Mortessagnes (1782)
From the basaltic pebbles in high deposits to the Rhône River history: Observations and hypotheses of Gui de Mortessagnes (1782)
 

Jean Mergoil, Juliette Mergoil-Daniel
CNRS, laboratoire magmas et volcans, OPGC, université Blaise-Pascal, 5, rue Kessler, 63038 Clermont-Ferrand cedex, France 

Auteur correspondant.
Résumé

Connu jusqu’alors par sa découverte des volcans du Vivarais-Velay (1778), l’abbé Gui de Mortessagnes s’illustre aussi par des observations de galets de basalte en rive gauche du Rhône, à grande distance de leur source et à des altitudes très élevées par rapport au lit du fleuve. N’ayant pu en rendre compte dans le cadre du fluvialisme, il supposa l’existence d’un torrent diluvien ayant recouvert l’ensemble de la région, avant qu’un affaissement n’amorçât l’installation du Rhône. S’étant ainsi inscrit dans la mouvance du néodiluvianisme, Mortessagnes ne considéra pas pour autant cet épisode diluvien comme unique dans l’histoire de la Terre, dont il admit une durée particulièrement longue. Partant de ses notes manuscrites inédites, nous replaçons son travail dans le contexte de l’époque et dans le cadre de l’histoire actuellement connue de la vallée du Rhône.

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Abstract

The abbey Gui de Mortessagnes, well known for his contribution to the discovery of the Vivarais-Velay volcanoes (1778), faced with the deposits of basaltic pebbles in the Rhône valley. From its own observations, he emphasized the distribution of these deposits on the left bank, at a higher levels than the modern valley and downstream from Montélimar, thence very far from their roots. The fluvialist theory failing in the explanation, Mortessagnes suggests that a diluvial stream have submerged this country and that later collapses induced the Rhône valley. So, he is joined to neodiluvianist trend but he considered that this deluge event is not unique in the earth history and admits a long age for the earth. From his handwritten notes, we apprehend his work in relation with the concepts that time and in the light of the present geological knowledge on the Rhône valley.

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Mots clés : Galets de basalte, Vallée du Rhône, Vivarais-Velay, Terrasses alluviales, Mortessagnes, Fluvialisme, Néodiluvianisme, France

Keywords : Basaltic pebbles, Rhône valley, Vivarais-Velay, Alluvial deposits, Mortessagnes, Fluvialism, Neodiluvianism, France




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