North-Central Section - 38th Annual Meeting (April 1–2, 2004)
Paper No. 8-7
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM-3:40 PM

EDUARD SUESS: MASTER TECTONICIST AND PROGENITOR OF URBAN GEOLOGY

DORSCH, Joachim, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Saint Louis Univ, 3507 Laclede Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63103, dorsch@eas.slu.edu

Eduard Suess (1831-1914) is generally considered as one of the greatest geologists. He is mostly known for his four-volume work The Face of the Earth (1883 to 1909). In this work he summarized and interpreted the geology of the world, addressed paleogeography and orogenic history, in addition to introducing numerous geological concepts and terms still valid today. Suess is also acknowledged for his work on the evolution of the Alps and for the recognition of the importance of horizontal motions in the tectonic evolution of mountain chains. Far less well known, however, is his contribution to the field of applied geology. A key work in this realm was his book ‘Der Boden der Stadt Wien’ (1862) [The Ground of the City of Vienna]. In this book Suess outlines the geology of Vienna including a geological map of the city. He describes the setting of the city with respect to the Alps and its surface water drainage system. Suess classifies, describes and delineates the distribution of the Tertiary deposits, the Quaternary periglacial/glacial and alluvial deposits, and the deposits caused by the action of man as a geologic agent (technogenic deposits). The book also includes a segment on geologic materials used for building and construction. The most important section of the book, however, is devoted to the importance of the geology of Vienna to the well being of its citizens. In this chapter, wells, groundwater and water quality are discussed, together with the importance of geology and hydrology for various epidemic outbreaks. Suess’ book is probably the earliest example of a comprehensive assessment of the geology of a city and its importance for its inhabitants, especially as it pertains to their health: it should be considered as the historical foundation of the geoscience branch of urban geology. A result of Suess’ work was the development of a 112 km-long water supply system from the Alps (1873) to ensure the steady supply of high-quality drinking water for Vienna. Since then, the health threat caused by recurring epidemic outbreaks was eliminated. Another corollary of the book was the regulation of the Danube (1875) around Vienna to eliminate the flood hazard posed by the river for the city. Suess himself ranked his work in applied geology as his most fundamental professional contribution and urged fellow geologist not to neglect this field.

North-Central Section - 38th Annual Meeting (April 1–2, 2004)
Session No. 8
Urban Geology
Millennium Hotel St. Louis: Laclede Room
1:00 PM-5:00 PM, Thursday, 1 April 2004

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 36, No. 3, p. 18

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