Severgin, Vasilii

Severgin, Vasilii Mikhailovich


Born Sept. 8 (19), 1765, in St. Petersburg; died there Nov. 17 (29), 1826.

Russian mineralogist and chemist.

After graduating from St. Petersburg University, Severgin was sent to the University of Göttingen (1785–89) for advanced studies in mineralogy. Upon his return to St. Petersburg in 1789, he was appointed an adjunct in the department of mineralogy of the Academy of Sciences. In 1793 he became a professor (academician) in the same department.

Severgin’s principal works dealt with topics in mineralogy, chemistry, and engineering. In mineralogy he developed a chemical approach that focused on the composition and structure of minerals. In 1798 he became the first to formulate the concept of paragenesis (“mineral association”), a concept that was later (1849) described a second time by the German mineralogist J. A. Breithaupt. In 1808 and 1809, Severgin published A Mineralogical Land Analysis of the Russian Stale (parts 1–2, 1808–09), in which he presented a detailed summary of information on the geology and mineralogy of Russia. He wrote works on chemical technology dealing with the mining of mineral alkaline salts (1796), assaying (1801), and the manufacture of saltpeter.

Severgin was one of the first Russian scientists to propound the oxygen theory of combustion. He also did much to develop Russian scientific terminology in mineralogy, chemistry, and botany. In 1791 he began his association with the Free Economic Society. He was the founder and, after 1804, the permanent editor of the Tekhnologicheskii zhurnal (Journal of Technology) and was one of the founders of the Mineralogical Society in St. Petersburg (1817). Severgin was a member of the Stockholm Academy of Sciences.


Sukhomlinov, M. I. Istoriia Rossiiskoi akademii. fasc. 4. St. Petersburg, 1879.
Barsanov, G. P. “V. M. Severgin i mineralogiia ego vremeni ν Rossii.” Izv. AN SSSR: Seriia geologicheskaia, 1949, no. 5.
Barsanov, G. P. “K istorii razvitiia russkoi mineralogii kontsa XVIII veka.” Tr. Mineralogicheskogo muzeia AN SSSR, 1950, issue 2.
Grigor’ev, D. P., and I. I. Shafranovskii. Vydaiushchiesia russkie mineralogi. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.