Having attended at the École des Mines in Paris, he assisted Élie de Beaumont in the chair of geology at the Collège de France from 1855 until he succeeded him in 1874. He made researches on volcanic phenomena, especially on the gaseous emanations. He investigated also the variations of temperature in the atmosphere and ocean. In 1857, he is elected member of the French Academy of Sciences in replacement of Armand Dufrénoy. He is promoted Officier de la Légion d'honneur in 1862. He died in Paris.