Prestigious award for Max Planck geochemist

Albrecht W. Hofmann receives the Urey Award of the European Association for Geochemistry

February 23, 2015

The European Association of Geochemistry honors Albrecht W. Hofmann with this year's Harold Urey Award for his outstanding scientific career. Albrecht "Al" Hofmann headed the Department of Geochemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry from 1980 to 2007.

The geochemist explored large-scale geological processes. One of his main interests has been how continental and oceanic crusts formed and how the Earth’s mantle developed and differentiated chemically. In order to determine the origin of rocks he analyzed their trace elements and isotopic compositions.

Hofmann became particularly well known for his now widely accepted hypothesis about the origin of volcanoes on oceanic islands such as Hawaii or Iceland. He proposed that such volcanoes develop from former oceanic crust, which sank into the Earth mantle a billion years ago and reappears by convection of the mantle.

"Al Hofmann is an exceptional researcher who has always managed to pass his fascination for geochemistry onto others," says Stephen Galer, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and longtime collaborator of Hofmann.

To inspire young people for science is still close to Hofmann’s heart. Currently, the 75 year old geochemist teaches as Adjunct Professor and Visiting Senior Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, as Adjunct Professor at the University of Nanjing, China, and as Guest Professor at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, China.

The award ceremony will take place in Prague during this year's Goldschmidt Conference. The award is named after the American physical chemist Harold Clayton Urey. He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1934 for his pioneering work on isotopes and especially the discovery of deuterium, a natural hydrogen isotope.

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