František Pošepný was born on 30 March 1836 in Jilemnice. In 1852 he began studying natural science at a polytechnic in Prague. From 1857 he continued at the higher mining school (later mining academy) in Příbram, where he was influenced by Johan Grimm's lectures, the contemporary director and an excellent geologist. Pošepný was particularly intrigued by Grimm's lectures on ore deposits. As a result, he started testing his knowledge through exploring the copper deposits near Jilemnice.
When he finished his studies, Pošepný started a career of a mining geologist under the mining authority of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and in 1860 he was transferred as a senior trainee to the mining headquarters in Rumanian (formerly Hungarian) Oláhláposbánye (Baia Mare). In 1861 he got a job of the mining manager in lignite mine near Kovácsová, which was a poorly investigated area as for geology. In 1862 Pošepný was charged with exploring the ore deposit in Rodna, in the Transylvania Alps. Underestimating his knowledge, he asked for an internship with the Imperial Geological Institute in Vienna. He used his two-year stay to study expert literature, he went to lectures on geology, but continued to explore the site in Rodna. In 1865 he was charged with compiling a study on the gold deposit in Verespatak and in 1869 he went to investigate the ore deposits in Raibl. During his several-year stay in Transylvania he managed to collect a lot of documentation material and expert knowledge. The investigations in Transylvania, which was understudied by mining experts, helped him to learn about different types of deposits, i.e. from iron ore and gold deposits to salt and sulphur deposits.
In 1870 Pošepný was appointed the principal geologist for the Hungarian Empire at the mining headquarters in Banská Štiavnica. At that time, he investigated several Slovak ore deposits (Magurka, Špania Dolina, Kremnica, Nová Baňa) and, on the side, he was finishing the investigations in Raibl. His deep interest in practical implications of the geological findings and compiling a complex concept of exploratory work was not appreciated. In 1874 he resigned and left for Vienna, where in 1875 he accepted a vice-secretary position with the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture. At that time, he carried out a number of exploratory work in Tyrol, Styria, and Istria. In 1876 he was sent to an international exhibition in Philadelphia. He used the trip to make friends with his American colleagues (e.g. professor R. W. Raymond from New York), and to visit a number of deposits, especially in Nevada and California. In 1878, during the occupation of Bosnia and Hercegovina by Austria, he suggested conducting a geological mapping of the countries by army cartographers, for whom he held a cycle of lectures in geology and geological mapping methods.
Pošepný gradually produced his own concept of research and attempted to prepare his own theory on the genesis of ore deposits. At the same time, at the level of the ministry, he managed to impose compulsory lectures in ore deposit geology at Austrian mining academies that had previously been mainly technical schools. On 8 September 1879 through the imperial order, new departments of ore deposit geology were established with the mining academies in Příbram and Leoben. In Příbram, it was Pošepný, who was charged with managing the department, first as an assistant professor, later on as an extraordinary professor from 1882, and from 1887 as a professor in geology and analytical chemistry.
During his work at the mining academy, he focused on intense geological investigations of the Příbram District. It might have been in Příbram, where he began to word the main principles of his theory on the genesis of ore deposits. Unfortunately, his research was not welcome with interest.
In 1889 he decided to retire due to ill health and moved to Vienna. In the following years he made a number of journeys abroad, and visited the mining regions in Germany, England, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, Sardinia and Palestine, where he collected new knowledge and verified his thoughts on the genesis of ore deposits.
He died in Vienna on 27 March 1895 and was buried in his birthplace, in Jilemnice.
Work of Professor Pošepný:
Professor Pošepný concluded his lifelong research, findings, and knowledge in his cardinal work 'The Genesis of Ore Deposits', which was first published in English in Chicago in 1893 at the occasion of the Congress of the American Association of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers. It was published in German in 1895. The second English edition (a translation) was published in 1902 in New York with extensive commentaries by leading American scholars in ore deposit geology.
A Czech translation of the German edition was made in 1927 by professor B. Ježek. The English edition was translated to Czech in 1986 by V. Přibylová and professor Z. Pouba.
The second important work by Pošepný is 'Das Goldvorkommen Böhmens und der Nachbarländer' (On the occurrence of gold in Bohemia and the neighbouring countries) summarizing his extensive research in gold-bearing deposits.
Apart from the above mentioned, he published over 100 other works, where he described many sites important from the mining and geological points of views. He obtained rich documentation during his travels too, which he processed and gradually published in two extensive volumes of Archiv für praktische Geologie.
His works are characteristic of diverse theoretical and practical knowledge in engineering. His research significantly contributed to the specification of knowledge in stratigraphy, regional geology, hydrogeology, and mining science. His main contribution lies in the consistent application of comparative and genetic points of view in classification. Pošepný is considered a co-author of the modern ore deposit geology, and his legacy is still important for the current generation of ore deposit geologists.
The bibliography of František Pošepný, compiled by V. Horáková, makes part of the book 'The Genesis of Ore Deposits', translated from English by Z. Pouba and V. Přibylová, published by ÚÚG Praha (ČAV) in 1986.
Majer J.: Život a dílo Františka Pošepného. In Pošepný F.: Geneze rudních ložisek (ed. Pouba Z., Přibylová V.), ÚÚG nakladatelství ČAV, Praha 1986, str. 169-177.
Majer J.: Ke 100 letému úmrtnímu výročí Františka Pošepného. In Zpravodaj GP č. 3, Ostrava 1995, str. 21-29.
Sborník prací k 150. výročí narození Františka Pošepného, ÚÚG 1986, Praha.