Antonio De Toni: a scholar or a young scientist curious about every aspect of geology?

On the occasion of the anniversary of the First World War, the Library of Geosciences rembers Antonio De Toni, student first and then professor of geology at the University of Padua, who died a few days after the beginning of the conflict. The library holds his publications, his geological maps, some commemorative writings and an archive box with field notebooks, photos, notes and fossil sketches. The Museum of Geology and Paleontology holds the paleontological samples he had collected and studied.


ritratto di Antonio De ToniAntonio De Toni had been chosen by Prof. Giorgio Dal Piaz as his assistant to the Chair of Mineralogy and Applied Geology at the School of Application for Engineers of Padua in 1912, when he was 23 years old, for his skills as an observer of the environment and his ability to capture and record not only natural events, but also the facts that mark human relationships, able to appreciate the work done by others and to grasp the importance of making them accessible to all. The first ones emerge in the short writings, including the documentation of the excursion to the Elba Island and the marble quarries of the Apuani of 1911 with Prof. Giorgio Dal Piaz, the second in the review of the existing publications in German concerning the Euganean Hills (1911). The post-mortem commemorations, which took place at the beginning of the First World War, recall his deep sense of homeland and the sympathy and affection he had raised in those who had known him both at the university and in the army.

Young student, he applied himself to a preliminary mineralogical study of the sands of the Piave (1910) based on the use of experimental geochemical methods for the separation of minerals. He then devoted himself to a more complete geological and sedimentological study of the deposits of the Lido of Venice, with a thesis carried out with Prof. De Marchi in 1910, in which he also analyzed the swirling behavior of the wave motion and the methods of deposition of the sandy sediment.

spedizione in Albania In 1913 he participated in the scientific expedition promoted by the Italian Geological Society in Albania with the task of drawing up the report on geological results and he applied himself with a pioneering-journalistic spirit documenting movements and explorations. He realized not only a preliminary geological map but also a series of geological profiles that highlight the tectonics for folds and overshoots oriented NW-SE, SW converging, of the Adriatic coast between Croia and Elbassan, focusing mainly on the significant post-Pliocene tectonic deformation of the marine sediments (i.e. Messinian, Miocene) and Pliocene deformation of the Albanian Gulf.


carta geologica del Monte Bivera The activity as a geologist included numerous surveys between 1913 and 1914 for sheet 1:100,000 Ampezzo.

The passion for palaeontology led him to the deep study of fossils, especially brachiopods, on several occasions. There are few writings, but rather exhaustive, including the description of a liassic fauna (Lower Jurassic) of brachiopods, lamellibranchs and crinoids (Limestone with Entrochus) with determination of various genera (1911–1912) in a limestone of Cima di Vedana (Sospirolo ), a description of a brachiopod fauna belonging to the area of ​​Ceratites (= Paraceratites) trinodosus of Monte Rite (1912), coming from a site near the top of the mountain, already known for the richness of the ammonites of the Middle Triassic and, finally, the description of the Triassic fauna of Valpedena (Lorenzago, Cadore, 1914), from a slightly stratified dolomite with diploporas, from Anisian at Colle Audoi. He found similarities between the fauna of Colle Audoi and the fauna of the Formation of Esino (Lombardy), with the fauna of Val Badia and Val Giudicarie, as well as of Spiti of the Himalayas. He attributed the fauna to the Wengen (Ladinian) even if anisian and carnian forms remained.
He died soon after, at the beginning of the First World War, the first fallen of the Padua University.
Wonderful field notebooks remain of him with significant scientific value.


Silvana Martin, Manuel Rigo