Geochemistry, a branch of geological sciences,
started its existence with contributions of Frank Clarke, Victor Goldschmidt and Vladimir Vernadsky. The initial concern of geochemistry
was to characterize the chemical composition of the planet. Nowadays
papers by Condie (1993), McDonough and Sun (1995), Taylor and McLennan
(1985), Ronov and Yaroshevsky (1969), Rudnick and Fountain (1995),
Turekian and Wedepohl (1961), Vinogradov (1962) and others are probably
the most relevant references in the field. However, early influential
contributions regarding the Earth’s composition were papers by Clarke
and Washington (1924), and Goldsmith (1933). Their studies were focused
the average composition of the most accessible part of the planet –
continental crust and its components (e.g., igneous rocks merely).
While, the paper by Clark and Washington (1924) is easily accessible on
the internet, well-cited Goldsmith’s “Grundlagen der quantitativen
Geochemie” (1933) was accessible for me only via library order. The actual reference is: Goldschmidt, V.M. (1933). Grundlagen der quantitativen Geochemie. Fortschrift Mineralogie 17(2), 112-156. Of
course, it comes in German. I wondered how often such an influential
paper was actually read (although I am aware of later Goldschmidt’s
papers and a book in English, they are rarely cited in the context).
good friend of mine, Sara Yanny-Tillar, recently received her
Master’s degree in Germanic languages from the University of Illinois,
Urbana-Champaign. Her interest in German language is admirable and she
was very kind to help me with translating a part of the paper. The
translation turned out to be great and Sara said it was good experience
for her to translate something scientific. Thank you, Sara!
the chapter “Durchschnittliche Zusammensetzung der Eruptivgesteine”
(Average Composition of Igneous Rocks) is especially important as
Goldschmidt used the new approach to estimate the average composition of
igneous rocks and continental crust overall. Arguing that the method
used in Clarke and Washington misinterpreted the proportions of rock
composing the average continental crust, Goldschmidt used fine-grained
sedimentary rocks such as post-glacial tillites and shales as they
naturally preserve proportions of rocks composing the crust.