Gubkin, Ivan Mikhailovich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gubkin, Ivan Mikhailovich


Born Sept. 9 (21), 1871, in the village of Pozdniakovo, in present-day Navashino Raion, Gorky Oblast; died Apr. 21, 1939, in Moscow. Soviet geologist, founder of Soviet petroleum geology. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1929), vice-president of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1936), and chairman of the Azerbaijan branch of the Academy of Sciences (1937). Member of the CPSU from 1921.

After graduating from the St. Petersburg Mining Institute (1910), Gubkin worked on the Geological Committee. During the years 1917–18 he was sent to the United States to study the petroleum industry. In 1918, at the invitation of V. I. Lenin, he joined the staff of the Central Petroleum Committee, and in 1919 became director of the central Administration of the Slate Industry. From 1920 to 1925 he was chairman of the Special Commission for the Study of the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly. In 1920 he became a professor at the Moscow Mining Academy, in 1922 he became rector there, and in 1930 he became rector and head of the subdepartment of geology and petroleum deposits of the Moscow Petroleum Institute. In 1925 he established a laboratory on geophysical methods of prospecting and analysis at the State Petroleum Research Institute, which became the basis for the formation of various geophysical research and production organizations. In 1931 he became head of the State Geological Prospecting Research Administration of the Supreme Council of the National Economy. From 1930 to 1936 he was chairman of the Council for the Study of Productive Forces of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Gubkin’s main works were devoted to the geology of petroleum. His works on the genesis and formative condition of the petroleum deposits of the Northern Caucasus served as the basis for the development of prospecting work there. Gubkin created the theory of the laws of distribution and origin of mud volcanoes and established their link with petroleum deposits. In his classical work The Theory of Petroleum (1932), Gubkin presented his ideas on the origin of petroleum and the conditions of the formation of petroleum deposits, which included working out the questions of the primariness and secondariness of oil pools, the migration of oil and gas, classification of oil pools, and the laws of their distribution.

Gubkin’s work on the establishment of a petroleum base between the Volga and the Urals was of great theoretical and practical value. In the work The Urals-Volga Petroleum-bearing Region (published posthumously in 1940), Gubkin showed the industrial promise of the “Second Baku.” The most important questions of the mineral and raw material base for the Urals-Kuznetsk Combine, for Karaganda, and the Altai and the problems of the industrial development of Siberia, the Far East, and the Transcaucasus were resolved with Gubkin’s direct participation. Gubkin deserves great credit for organizing the first academic subdepartments in the USSR for various divisions of petroleum science and for establishing a scientific school of petroleum geologists. In 1937 he was elected president of the 17th session of the International Geological Congress, which was held in Moscow. He was a deputy to the first convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. A city in Belgorod Oblast, the Institute of Geology of the Academy of Sciences of the Azerbaijan SSR, and the Moscow Institute of the Petrochemical and Gas Industry have all been named after Gubkin. In 1949 the Academy of Sciences of the USSR established the I. M. Gubkin monetary prize.


Izbr. soch., vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950–53. (Contains a bibliography of Gubkin’s works and of literature about him.)


Kumok, Ia. N. Gubkin. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.