Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


DORSCH, Joachim, Physical Sciences, St. Louis Community College at Meramec, 11333 Big Bend Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63122-5799,

Eduard Suess (1831-1914) is well known as a scientist who made significant contributions to the science of geology, as exemplified by his major works: ‘Das Antlitz der Erde’ [The Face of the Earth] (1883 to 1909) and ‘Die Enstehung der Alpen’ [The Development of the Alps] (1875). Less well-known, however, are his contributions to the field of applied geology. Interestingly, Suess himself considered this work in applied geology as his most significant contribution to the science of geology. In 1862, Suess published a seminal work in the field of applied geology: ‘Der Boden der Stadt Wien – Nach Seiner Bildungsweise, Beschaffenheit und Seinen Beziehungen zum Buergerlichen Leben’ [The Ground of the City of Vienna - According to its Mode of Formation, Constitution and its Relationship to the Life of the Citizenry]. This book of 326 pages consists of the following chapters: 1. Introduction (including a description of the morphology of the city and its setting relative to the Alps); 2. Stratigraphy/Earth Materials (including a discussion of the ‘Schuttdecke” [rubble blanket] – a layer of anthropogenically reworked older strata); 3. Distribution of Earth Materials (this chapter is linked to a colored geological map); 4. The Ground and its Relationship to the Life of the Citizenry (principally a summary of the local hydrogeology and the relationship of water and geology to the 1855 cholera outbreak). Evaluating Suess’ work of 1862 from the vantage point of present-day geology, it is apparent that his book contributed significantly to the field of hydrogeology; in addition, the comprehensive assessment of the geology and hydrogeology of Vienna constitutes an early example of urban geology; furthermore, the examination of the impact of Earth materials and processes on human health, identification of pathogen sources and suggestions for remediation represents what we would label today as medical geology. Lastly, Suess’ description and discussion of the ‘Schuttdecke’ indicates that he clearly appreciated the importance of man as a geomorphologic (erosion, transport, deposition) agent.