Victor Moritz Goldschmidt (1888–1947): A Tribute to the Founder of Modern Geochemistry on the Fiftieth Anniversary of His Death
Goldschmidt combined a number of widely separated sciences to synthesize a new structural crystal chemistry. Although his work on the relative abundances of the elements, atomic and ionic radii, interionic distances, the effect of radius ratio on coordination number in crystals, replacement of ions in minerals, and the lanthanide contraction is found in almost every textbook of general and inorganic chemistry and has provided the basis for modern crystal chemistry and the use of size relationships for interpreting properties of inorganic substances, Goldschmidt’s name, life, and career remain relatively unknown to most chemical educators and practicing chemists.
Goldschmidt used the basic properties of matter to provide simple and elegant explanations for the composition of our environment. Throughout his relatively brief career, filled with sorrow and tragedy, he continued to maintain his intense interest in the elements and their genesis, affinities, and associations despite his changes from one method to another in his attempts to obtain new and more complete data. Thus, although he used petrology, crystallography, and chemistry and enriched all these fields greatly, to him they were only tools for exploring the earth and its history.