Niggli, Paul

Niggli, Paul


Born June 26, 1888, in Zofingen; died Jan. 13, 1953, in Zürich. Swiss mineralogist, petrologist, and geochemist.

Niggli graduated from the higher technical school in Zürich in 1907. He was a professor at the universities in Leipzig (1915–18) and Tübingen (1918–20) and the higher technical school and university in Zürich (from 1920). His principal works dealt with geochemistry, metallogeny, the chemical properties of minerals and rocks, and the differentiation of magma. Niggli worked out the fundamentals of the stereochemistry of crystalline compounds and proposed a method for the evaluation of the chemical composition of rocks, as well as a genetic classification for magmatogenic ore deposits. Niggli developed the idea that the distribution of chemical elements in the earth’s crust depends on the structure of their atoms (that is, substances with heavy atomic weights are found, as a rule, in lower strata as compared with those of lighter atomic weights). The mineral niggliite (platinum telluride) was named after him. Niggli was a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1924).


Geometrische Kristallographie des Discontinuums, parts 1–2. Leipzig, 1918–19.
Lehrbuch der Mineralogie und Kristallchemie, 3rd ed., vols. 1–2. Berlin-Zehlendorf, 1941–42.
Grundlagen der Stereochemie. Basel, 1945.
In Russian translation:
Metamorfizm gornykh porod. Leningrad-Moscow, 1933. (With U. Grubenmann).
Magma i ee produkty, part 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.


Karpinskii, A., and A. Fersman. “Zapiska ob uchenykh trudakh P. Niggli.” Izv. Rossiiskoi Akademii nauk, 1924, vol. 18, nos. 12–18.
Ewald, P. P. “Paul Niggli, 1888–1953.” Acta Crystallographica, 1953, vol. 6.