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  The Mauger / Minette Coincidence
Richard Mauger; maugerr@ecu.edu serves as a geoligist at East Carolina University. He grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania and has written a book, Tales From My Youth, of his years in East Mauch Chunk, now Jim Thorpe, PA.

Shortly after moving to Greenville in eastern North Carolina (1969) as a new faculty member in geology at East Carolina University, I was looking for interesting outcrops of igneous and metamorphic rock that contrasted with the geologically young, soft, sandy sediments around Greenville.

On such location was a large "gravel" pit near Concord, North Carolina. The gravel was actually disintegrated igneous rock that upon weathering, broke into small pebble-size particles that were ideal for making asphalt road paving. A large mound of intact rock had been left standing near the center of the gravel pit. This was clearly a different kind of rock! Subsequently, this exposure became a major stop on the 3-day field trip I eventually put together for my upper division classes.

After considerable effort and study, the moundrock in the pit was recognized as a minette, a relatively rare type of igneous rock belonging to a very diverse assemblage of rare igneous rocks known as lamprophyres. In the following years, I studied this rock and other very small bodies of minette that had been discovered nearby by a geologist from the US Geological Survey. Eventually (1988), I published two scientific papers on these minettes.

Prior to the publication date, I had attended a conference on minettes and other lamprophyres in Fredericton, New Brunswick. At this conference, one of the hosts told me about a small nearby communities named Maugerville. I drove there to look around and still have a photo of a van showing the name Upper Maugerville. Maugerville was named after Joshua Mauger, who at that time was Nova Scotia's agent to the Crown in London.

At this time, just after the British had finally secured all of Canada (1763), the province of New Brunswick had not yet been formed. This same host also showed me a reference to "The Minettes of Guernsey " (1916; in French) by M. Mauger, which had been published in a well respected French geoscience journal.

The odds that two persons named Mauger would have written scientific papers on minettes seem to be almost as rare as finding two unrelated people with the same DNA profile.

I knew that my father had grown up in the Philadelphia area and have vague memories that one of my father's relatives told me the name Mauger had come to England from Normandy with William the Conqueror (1066). This turns out to be true, although this person, Archbishop Mauger de Rouen later squabbled with William and was eventually banished to the Island of Jersey, which with Guernsey comprise the two largest of the Channel Islands. Note also that Jersey and Guernsey are well known breeds of milk cows that originated on the respective islands.

Visits to multiple web sites dealing with the Channel Islands subsequently showed me that Mauger is a very common name on both islands, and I had known that the rock minette was known to occur on these islands. Thus one can see how a Mauger could have been familiar enough with the area to author the 1916 paper on the minettes of Guernsey.

The word minette has had a wide range of meanings, especially in French, and an internet search turned up many businesses with minette in the name both in the US, The Channel Islands, and elsewhere. Its historical etymology would keep a expert busy for decades.

Also minette had an earlier geologic definition (mid-19th century) referring to a very unusual kind of sedimentary iron ore then being mined in the Vosges Mountains of France.

In conclusion, the minette-Mauger association is evidently just a remarkable coincidence brought about common surnames and common professional interests a century apart.

~ Richard Mauger





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