Victor Moritz Goldschmidt

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Goldschmidt, Victor Moritz


Born Jan. 27, 1888, in Zurich; died Mar. 20, 1947, in Oslo. Norwegian geochemist. One of the founders of geochemistry.

Goldschmidt studied in Christiania (Oslo) and Vienna. In 1914 he became a professor of mineralogy and geology at the University of Oslo; he was also director of the Geological Museum in Oslo. During the Nazi occupation of Norway Goldschmidt was imprisoned in a concentration camp. Members of the Norwegian Resistance arranged his escape to Great Britain, where he worked until the liberation of Norway.

In the work Phenomena of Contact Metamorphism in the Environs of Christiania (1911), Goldschmidt provided a physicochemical analysis of geochemical processes and for the first time arrived at his formulation of the mineralogical phase rule. This work showed the possibility of applying the phase rule to the simplest mineral systems. He also formulated the laws of the geochemical distribution of elements. Goldschmidt related the distribution of chemical elements in the earth not only to the chemical and physical properties of their atoms but also to their behavior in the crystal lattices. He proposed a geochemical classification of chemical elements based on the structure of the ion, the position of the element on the atomic volume curve, the magnetic properties of simple substances and their similarity to oxygen and sulfur, and so forth. His works in crystal chemistry disclosed important relationships between the position of elements in the periodic table and the dimensions of their atoms and ions. Goldschmidt studied the migration of elements in the iron family as well as the abundance of gallium, cerium, scandium, boron, lithium, rubidium, cesium, beryllium, selenium, arsenic, gold, and the platinum metals in the earth’s crust.


Geochemische Verteilungsgesetze der Elemente, vols. 1–8. Christiania, 1923–27.


Fersman, A. E. “Neskol’ko slov o V. M. Gol’dshmidte.” Osnovnyeidei geokhimii, fasc. 1. Leningrad, 1933.
Grigor’ev. D. P. “Professor V. M. Gol’dshmidt.” Zap. Vsesoiuznogo mineralogicheskogo obshchestva, 1948. part 77, issue 2.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Victor Moritz Goldschmidt (1888-1947), the father of modem geochemistry, introduced the term biophile for elements found at high absolute or relative concentrations in living organisms.
The conference is named after Victor Moritz Goldschmidt, who was born in Zurich in 1888 and is recognized as the founder of modern geochemistry.