Victor Goldschmidt

Victor Moritz Goldschmidt ( born January 27, 1888 in Zurich, † March 20, 1947 in Vestre Aker in Oslo ) was a geochemist.


Goldschmidt's father, Heinrich (1857-1937) was a Professor of Chemistry in Oslo, so the family moved there from Zurich. 1905 Goldschmidt began with the study of mineralogy, geology and chemistry at the University of Oslo, his teacher was the doyen of Geology and Mineralogy of Norway, Waldemar Christofer Brøgger. He made from 1907 petrographic work on contact metamorphism in the Oslo region. His resulting thesis was published in 1911 and is one of his major works. At the age of only 26 years, he became in 1914 a professor and director at the Mineralogical Institute of the University of Christiania (now Oslo University ).

Here he turned to the study of the laws of distribution of chemical elements in the Earth's body. The findings were published in a series of articles under the title Geochemical distribution laws of the elements ( 1923-27 ). He realized that this crystal- chemical laws play an important role. Elements with similar ionic radius can represent each other in crystals and form common minerals, see Gold Schmidt's rule. From X-ray diffraction patterns he could determine many atomic and ionic radii. Thus he created an important basis of crystal chemistry.

An appeal to the Ludwig -Maximilians- University of Munich failed in 1924 after an anti -Semitic vote defeat of his supporters Willstätter, Paul Heinrich von Groth et al in the philosophical faculty. The resulting scandal triggered led to Willstätter prematurely retired and that Goldschmidt's supporters Rudolf Nissen was aware of the dangerous power of the academic anti-Semitism by his own admission. In 1926 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina.

For more deals from European universities, he took in 1929 at the call to Göttingen. Here he examined in extensive series of analyzes the occurrence of the elements including the rare trace elements in terrestrial rocks and meteorites. Under international protest, he was forced by the racial laws of the Nazis to leave Germany. He returned during a 1936-1941 permanent emigration back to Oslo back, but had to under adventurous circumstances again flee from the Nazis. About Sweden led him his flight to Britain, where he worked in Aberdeen. In 1947 he died at only 59 years from complications of a leg operation in Oslo.


Goldschmidt studied the laws that determine the distribution of elements in the Earth's body. Named after him Goldschmidt- graph represents the frequency of the chemical elements on Earth, depending on their relative atomic mass dar. Goldschmidt coined the term " silicate shell " for the rocky mantle. Victor Moritz Goldschmidt applies in addition to the Russian Vladimir Vernadsky as the founder of modern geochemistry and crystal chemistry.

From his systematic studies of the elemental abundances in meteorites, the first statement of the resulting extrapolated abundances in the cosmos was created.

The German Mineralogical Society awards annually for the promotion of young scientists the Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Prize. A number of international geochemical professional societies, including the Geochemical Society, the Mineralogical Society of America and the European Association of Geochemistry, jointly organized an annual conference, which is named after Goldschmidt; gives it to the Geochemical Society as their highest award the VM Goldschmidt Award for outstanding achievements in the field of geochemistry.