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Arnold Henri Guyot

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Arnold Henri Guyot

Arnold Henry Guyot
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Arnold Henry Guyot
Born September 28, 1807
Boudevilliers, Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Died February 8, 1884
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Citizenship American
Nationality Swiss
Fields geology
Influences Louis Agassiz

Arnold Henry Guyot (September 28, 1807 Boudevilliers – February 8, 1884 Princeton, New Jersey) was a Swiss-American geologist and geographer.


Guyot was born at Boudevilliers, near Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He was educated at Chaux-de-Fonds, then at the college of Neuchâtel. In 1825, he went to Germany, and resided in Karlsruhe where he met Louis Agassiz, the beginning of a lifelong friendship. From Karlsruhe he moved to Stuttgart, where he studied at the gymnasium. He returned to Neuchâtel in 1827. He determined to enter the ministry and started at the University of Berlin to attend lectures. While pursuing his studies, he also attended lectures on philosophy and natural science. His leisure was spent in collecting shells and plants, and he received an entrée to the Berlin Botanical Garden from Humboldt. In 1835, he received the degree of Ph.D. from Berlin.

In 1838, at Agassiz's suggestion, he visited the Swiss glaciers and communicated the results of his six weeks' investigation to the Geological Society of France. He was the first to point out certain important observations relating to glacial motion and structure. Among other things he noted the more rapid flow of the center than of the sides, and the more rapid flow of the top than of the bottom of glaciers; described the laminated or ribboned structure of the glacial ice; and ascribed the movement of glaciers to a gradual molecular displacement rather than to a sliding of the ice mass as held by de Saussure. He subsequently collected important data concerning erratic boulders.

In 1839, he became the colleague of Agassiz as professor of history and physical geography at the College of Neuchâtel (a.k.a. Neuchâtel Academy?). The suspension of that institution in 1848 caused Guyot to emigrate, at Agassiz's instance, to the United States, where he settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He delivered a course of lectures at the Lowell Institute which were afterward published as Earth and Man (Boston 1853). For several years the Massachusetts Board of Education retained his services as a lecturer on geography and methods of instruction to the normal schools and teachers' institutes.

He was occupied with this work until his appointment, in 1854, as professor of physical geography and geology at Princeton University, which office he retained until his death. He was also for several years lecturer on physical geography in the State Normal School in Trenton, New Jersey, and from 1861 to 1866 lecturer in the Princeton Theological Seminary. He also gave courses in the Union Theological Seminary, New York, and at Columbia College. He founded the museum at Princeton, many of the specimens of which are from his own collections.

His scientific work in the United States included the perfection of plans for a national system of meteorological observations. Most of these were conducted under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution. His extensive meteorological observations led to the establishment of the United States Weather Bureau, and his Meteorological and Physical Tables (1852, revised ed. 1884) were long standard.


His graded series of text-books and wall-maps were important aids in the extension and popularization of geological study in America. In addition to text-books, his principal publications were:

  • Earth and Man, Lectures on Comparative Physical Geography in its Relation to the History of Mankind (translated by Cornelius Conway Felton, 1849)
  • A Memoir of Louis Agassiz (1883)
  • Creation, or the Biblical Cosmogony in the Light of Modern Science (1884).
  • Johnson’s New Universal Cyclopaedia (1876) - editor-in-chief along with Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard


He is the namesake of several geographical features, including Guyot Glacier in Alaska, Mount Guyot on the North Carolina and Tennessee border, and a different Mount Guyot in New Hampshire, as well as Mount Guyot on the Rocky Mountain Continental Divide in Colorado. The building housing the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton is named Guyot Hall in his honor.

See also


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  • James Dwight Dana's Memoir in the Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science, vol. ii. (Washington, 1886).
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  • Template:1911

External links

  • Tables, Meteorological and Physical Prepared for the Smithsonian Institution (1858)
  • Tables, Meteorological and Physical Prepared for the Smithsonian Institution (1884)
  • Directions for meteorological observations, and the registry of periodical phenomena (1860)
  • Physical Geography (1873)
  • (1860).
  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir

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