Albert Heim

Albert Heim ( born April 12, 1849 in Zurich, † August 31, 1937 ibid ) was Professor of Geology at the ETH Zurich and the way cynologist. He was one of the founders of the contraction theory of the earth, almost 100 years - until about 1960 - the Standard Model of Geotektonik was.


Albert Heim was born as the second child of the merchant and banker Johann Konrad home and Sophie Elisabeth Home Fries born in Zurich. Following the primary school in Zurich and Hottingen he attended from 1864 to 1866, the Industrial School (Canton school). Immediately after high school Albert Heim began in 1866 his science degree at the University of Zurich. After three semesters, he transferred to the Federal Polytechnic ( ETH Zurich since 1911 ), which he " in scientific direction of specialist teachers " left in 1869 as a graduate. After graduating, Albert home made ​​further abroad: he enrolled for a semester at the University of Applied Sciences Berlin and mining, to then embark on the traditional study trip that took him to Denmark and Norway.

Back in Zurich Albert took home a rapid academic career for the former over time: In 1871, he completed his habilitation at the University of Zurich and at the Polytechnic. 1872, at the age of 23, he was elected Professor of Geology at the Polytechnic technical and general. Three years later he was also a professor at the nearby university. 1875 married Albert Heim Marie Vögtlin, which had opened a year earlier as the first doctor of their own practice in Zurich Switzerland, where she was active even after the marriage. The professional activity of the couple home had a strong formative influence on her two children: Arnold (1882-1965) was a geologist, Helene (1886-1979) nurse.

Albert Heim but dedicated not only for research and teaching, he was also a sought-after author of geological reports about in connection with railway construction projects such as the Simplon tunnel or accidents such as the disaster of suburban train (1887 ). In addition, he developed an intense Commission's activities, such as a long-time president of the Geological Commission, as a member and temporary president of the Natural History Society Zurich or as a member of the SAC. Outside its geological interests, he joined as a proponent of cremation for the construction of Zürcher's crematorium and was with his wife in the temperance movement active.

Until his death, Albert Heim had introduced his great dedication to the science and the spread of interest in geological questions many honors and awards, including the Albert - Heim hut was named after him at the Furka Pass. He died on 31 August 1937 at the age of 88 years. His grave is in the cemetery Sihlfeld in Zurich.

In 1918 he received the first Edward Suess Medal of the Austrian Geological Society.



Albert Heim geological and cartographic major works dealt with the central issue for him tectonics and formation of the Alps. He put the contraction hypothesis of a slowing Earth based, carried his work for many decades the standard theory.

So he calculated the circumference of the earth by means of fictitious decrease smoothing the mountains to get the surface of the earth before her shrink. It was found that the Earth's circumference would be 5 km greater without the Jura Mountains, the Alps would not even 120 km greater. A quote:

"Guess we still off in their combined Schube, we find the folding of the other cut by the Central Alps meridian mountains that the circumferential shortening amounted to not quite 1% through the entire mountain building until now. "

According to Heim, the earth would be cooled to about 500 ° C since its creation. But he ruled out further horizontal displacements and mountain building, in which he disagreed with Otto Ampferer. That it would continue to earthquakes, he explained with load change, weathering and erosion.

Albert Heim detailed studies dealt often with the Glarus Alps and the Santis area. Here he combined his own observations with the knowledge of his time and developed new theories that led to fierce controversy with colleagues in part. The best known example is the dispute over the origin of the so-called Glarus double fold, today Glarus thrust, he finally ended by acknowledging the correctness of the theory of his opponents. Home publications, maps, panoramas and reliefs are not only important contributions to the development of geology, they also show his contribution to the use of academic drawing and photography for documentation and presentation of geological contexts.


Albert Heim made ​​in the field of Kynologie significant contributions to the promotion of Swiss Mountain Dog breeds. The breed standards of the four today Raised breeds Bernese Mountain Dog, Appenzeller Sennenhund, Entlebucher Mountain Dog and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog go decisively back to him. Founded in 1929, The Albert-Heim - Foundation of the Swiss Kennel Club ( SKG) to promote the canine research at the Natural History Museum of Bern is named after him.


  • Studies on the mechanism of mountain building following the geological monograph of Toedi - Windgällengruppe, 1878
  • The landslide of Elm 11 September 1881. Memorandum, 1881
  • Handbook of glaciology, 1885
  • Geological map of Switzerland, 1894
  • The Voyage of the " Vega " over the Alps and Jura, 1899
  • Air Colors 1912
  • Geology of Switzerland, 1916-1922
  • The Neufundländerhund, 1927
  • Landslide and people living in 1932
  • CH68865 Patent: Method for the production of graphic reproductions with visible only on request Einzeichnungen. Remember on May 1, 1915 Inventor: Albert Heim, Hans Hofer.


In the archives and estates of the ETH-Bibliothek a partial estate home is Albert (Hs 400 and 401 ) with numerous manuscripts, sketches, drawings, watercolors, photographs and letters. An overview of this stock offers online viewable estate directory in the ETH E-Collection.