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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > H > Jean-Baptiste-Julien D'Omalius Halloy

Jean-Baptiste-Julien D'Omalius Halloy

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Belgian geologist, b. at Liège, Belgium, 16 February, 1783; d. at Brussels, 15 January, 1875. He was the only son of an ancient and noble family, and his education was carefully directed. After completing his classical studies he was sent to Paris in 1801 by his parents to avail himself of the social and literary advantages of the metropolis. A lively interest, however, in natural history awakened by the works of Buffon, directed his steps to the museums and the Jardin des Plantes. He visited Paris again in 1803 and 1805, and during these periods attended the lectures of Fourcroy, Lacépède, and Cuvier. His homeward journeys were usually made the occasion of a geological expedition through northern France. He thus conceived the project of making a series of surveys throughout the whole country. This was furthered by a commission to execute a geological map of the empire which brought with it exemption from military duty. He devoted himself energetically to the work and by 1813 had traversed over 15,500 miles in France and portions of Italy. His family had, however, but little sympathy with his geological activity, and persuaded him about this time to gave up his expeditions. The map which he had made of France and the neighbouring territories was not published until 1822 and served as a basis for the more detailed surveys of Dufrénoy and Elie de Beaumont. After having served as sous-intendant of the arrondissement of Dinant and general secretary of the province of Liège, he became in 1815 governor of Namur. He held this office until after the Revolution of 1830. He was elected a member of the Belgian Senate in 1848, became its vice-president in 1851, was made a member of the Academy of Brussels in 1816, and was elected its president in 1850.

As a statesman Halloy had at heart the well-being of the people and, though his duties allowed him little opportunity for extended geological research, he retained a lively interest in his favourite science and engaged occasionally in field work. In his later years he gave much attention to questions of ethnology and philosophy. His death was hastened by the exertions of a scientific expedition undertaken alone in his nine-first year.

Halloy was one of the pioneers of modern geology, and in particular laid the foundation of geological knowledge over wide areas. He made important studies in the carboniferous districts of Belgium and the Rhine provinces and in the Tertiary deposits of the Paris basin. He was a practical Catholic during his long and active life, and was characterized by his loyalty and devotion to the Church. He insisted on the harmony between faith and science, making this the subject of his oration on the occassion of the golden jubilee of the Belgian Academy in 1866. Among his published works are: "Description géologique des Pays-Bas" (1828); "Eléments de Géologie" (1831); "Introduction à la Géologie" (1833); "Coup d'oeil sur la géologie de la Belgique" (1842); "Precis elementaire de Géologie" (1843); "Abrégé de Géologie" (1853); "Des Races humaines ou Eléments d' Ethnographie" (1845).


DUPONT, Annuaire de l'Academie Belgique (Brussels, 1876), XLII, 181; KNELLER, Das Christentum u. die Vertreter der neueren Naturwissenschaft (Freiburg, 1904), 266; VON ZITTEL, Hist. of Geology and Palaeontology (London, 1901).

About this page

APA citation. Brock, H. (1910). Jean-Baptiste-Julien D'Omalius Halloy. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Brock, Henry. "Jean-Baptiste-Julien D'Omalius Halloy." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph P. Thomas.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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