Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2122/2017
AuthorsScalera, G. 
TitleRoberto Mantovani an Italian defender of the continental drift and planetary expansion
Issue DateMay-2003
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/2122/2017
KeywordsHystory of global tectonic theories
Expanding Earth
R. Mantovani
Parma
Réunion
San Malò, Paris
Subject Classification05. General::05.03. Educational, History of Science, Public Issues::05.03.99. General or miscellaneous 
AbstractRoberto Mantovani, violinist and scientist,born in Parma on March 25, 1854. He was part of an orches-tral team reaching the volcanic Réunion Island in 1878. During his stay on the island, Mantovani had the occasion of observing the huge volcanic fractures on the Indian ocean shore near the town of Saint Denis. He argued that, on a global scale, all the continents might have undergone the same disjunction processes as the volcanic flanks. The global fractures are today the oceans. After several years from his observations, Mantovani published his idea in 1889 in the Bulletin of the Societé des Sciences et des Arts of Saint Denis, where the Italian established his family and became Consul of Italy. After an economic crisis and an epidemic plague in the Réunion Island, Roberto Mantovani left his post as Consul to go and live in San Servan, near the port of Saint Malo, in northern France, where he continued his activity as violinist, managing a school of music. As a scientist, he gave public conferences on the idea of planetary expansion. Mantovani was not a mere precursor of the continental drift idea: instead, Mantovani’s ideas on Earth expansion were more general compared to those of Wegener who was not taking into account the possibility of variation of the Earth’s radius. Roberto Mantovani, violinist and scientist, was part of an orches-tral team reaching the volcanic Réunion Island in 1878. During his stay on the island, Mantovani had the occasion of observing the huge volcanic fractures on the Indian ocean shore near the town of Saint Denis. He argued that, on a global scale, all the continents might have undergone the same disjunction processes as the volcanic flanks. The global fractures are today the oceans. After several years from his observations, Mantovani published his idea in 1889 in the Bulletin of the Societé des Sciences et des Arts of Saint Denis, where the Italian established his family and became Consul of Italy. After an economic crisis and an epidemic plague in the Réunion Island, Roberto Mantovani left his post as Consul to go and live in San Servan, near the port of Saint Malo, in northern France, where he continued his activity as violinist, managing a school of music. As a scientist, he gave public conferences on the idea of planetary expansion. His more famous paper, quoted later by Wegener, was published in 1909, in a popular magazine 'Je m’instruis'. The paper contains the first suggestive mapping of the breakup of the Pangea continent based on geological arguments. The great novelty in the 1909 paper was the mapping of the Pacific view: dotted lines were drown between pairs of geographical points which once were in contact while today are separated by the huge extension of the Pacific basin. The idea was that the corresponding points were in contact before the expansion of the Earth. The enlarging of the huge fractures formed all oceans. We had to wait the sixties to find the same kind of lines in the Indian and Atlantic oceans in plate tectonics. According to plate tectonics this is not true for the Pacific Ocean, because in this case the plate movement is inverse and the ocean tends towards closing. The 1909 Pacific map was forgotten, and only Mantovani’s Pangea representation is reproduced today in some books dealing with the history of science.
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