George Ferdinand Becker

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George Ferdinand Becker
George Ferdinand Becker 1897.jpg
Born (1847-01-05)5 January 1847
Died 20 April 1919(1919-04-20) (aged 72)
Nationality United States of America
Alma mater Harvard University
University of Heidelberg
Royal School of Mines (Berlin)
Scientific career
Fields Geology, Geophysics
Institutions University of California, United States Geological Survey

George Ferdinand Becker (1847–1919) was an American geologist. His most important work was in connection with the origin and mode of occurrence of ore deposits, especially those of the western United States.[1]


Becker was born in New York City, 5 January 1847. He was the son of Alexander Christian Becker and Sarah Carey Tuckerman Becker of Boston, Massachusetts.[2] He graduated from Harvard University in 1868, studied at Heidelberg, receiving the degree of Ph.D. in 1869, and, two years later, passed the final examination of the Royal School of Mines in Berlin. From 1875 until 1879 he was instructor of mining and metallurgy at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 1879 he became connected with the United States Geological Survey, and later was placed in charge of the California division of geology. In 1880 he was appointed special agent of the 10th census, and in 1882 was further appointed special agent in charge of the investigation of the precious-metal industries.[3]

Becker was a leader in mining geology and geophysics, and for many years was the chief of the Division of Chemical and Physical Research in the United States Geological Survey. The investigations under his direction led to the establishment of the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.[2]

In 1896 Becker examined the gold mines of South Africa and at the time of the Spanish–American War was detailed to serve as geologist on the staff of General Bell with the army in the Philippine Islands.[2] Becker served as president of the Geological Society of America in 1914[4][5]. He died on 20 April 1919 in Washington, D.C.[6][7]


  • Geometrical Form of Volcanic Cones (1885)
  • Notes on the Stratigraphy of California (1885)
  • Cretaceous Metamorphic Rocks of California (1886)
  • A Theory of Maximum Dissipativity (1886)
  • A New Law of Thermo-Chemistry (1886)
  • Atomic-Weight Determinations; A Digest of the Investigations published since 1814 (1880)
  • Geology of the Comstock Lode (1882)
  • Statistics and Technology of the Precious Metals with S. F. Emmons (1885)
  • Geological sketches of the precious metal deposits of the western United States (1885) by Samuel Franklin Emmons and George F. Becker. Extracted from the Tenth United States Census
  • Geology of the Quicksilver Deposits of the Pacific Slope (1886).
  • Reconnaissance of the Gold Fields of Southern Alaska: With Some Notes on General Geology (1898)
  • "Relations Between Local Magnetic Disturbances and the Genesis of Petroleum" US Geological Survey Bulletin No. 401 (1909)
  • "The Age of the Earth" Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Vol. 36, No. 6, Publication 1936 (1910)
  • Mechanics of the Panama Canal slides (1916)


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Becker, George Ferdinand" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  2. ^ a b c Obituary. New York Times. April 22, 1919, p. 17 (261 words)
  3. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Becker, George Ferdinand" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  4. ^ Fairchild, Herman LeRoy, 1932, The Geololgical Society of America 1888-1930, a Chapter in Earth Science History: New York, The Geological Society of America, 232 p.
  5. ^ Eckel, Edwin, 1982, GSA Memoir 155, The Geological Society of America — Life History of a Learned Society: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America Memoir 155, 168 p., ISBN 0-8137-1155-X.
  6. ^ accessed January 14, 2009
  7. ^ "Memorial of George Ferdinand Becker" by Arthur Louis Day. GSA Bulletin; March 1920; v. 31; no. 1; p. 14–25

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