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17th V. M. Goldschmidt Conference in Cologne, Germany

The 17th annual V.M. Goldschmidt Conference took place on the premises of the University of Cologne in Germany, from August 19 - 24, 2007. It was the largest Goldschmidt Conference ever, with 2225 participants from 47 countries, among them 642 students, nearly one third of the total number of participants. The 2007 Goldschmidt Conference was organized together with the annual German Mineralogical Society Meeting, which is, of course, a much smaller meeting.

The Cologne Goldschmidt Conference was the second Goldschmidt Conference in Germany, after the1996 Conference in Heidelberg, which had some 800 participants.

The steady increase in attendance of Goldschmidt Conferences reflects a growing interest in all aspects of Earth sciences. Goldschmidt Conferences are benefiting from the rapid technical improvements of mass spectrometric methods. I estimate that more than 70 % of all abstract are in one or the other way related to mass spectrometry, either reporting progress in mass spectrometric procedures or using mass spectrometry as a research tool.

In the past years I had the impression that low temperature geochemistry is steadily increasing at the expense of high temperature geochemistry. The experience in Melbourne and Cologne seem to indicate, however, that this trend is not continuing. High and low temperature themes had about equal shares at both conferences with increasing tendency for removing boundaries.

A huge variety of subjects were discussed at the conference, from the formation and evolution of the Earth to the origin of life, from paleoclimatology to the study of present environmental pollution. There were talks about the formation of the Earth’s core and at the same time contributions are presented that discuss techniques for storing CO2 deep in the interior of the Earth. It is the mixture of applied and fundamental research that makes this conference so attractive.

Conference Location

The university of Cologne is located within the city of Cologne, numerous shops, restaurants, coffee shops etc. are within walking distance. Other attractive sites, various museums, the Rhine river, Cologne cathedral etc. can be easily reached with public transportation. Although participants were spread in hotels all over the city public transportation allows easy and fast connections to the conference center. A ticket valid for unlimited use of public transportation within the inner city of Cologne was included in the registration package.

High temperature talks were in large separate lecture hall building of the university while the low temperature talks clustered in the lecture halls of the main university building, with only a few minutes walk between the two locations.


Goldschmidt Conferences are truly international conferences A total of 47 countries were represented at the Cologne Conference with 24 % of the participants from Germany, 18% from USA, 8 % from UK and the same fraction from France, followed byJapan (7 %), Switzerland (4 %), Canada (4 %), Australia (3 %), Russia (3 %), China (3 %). It is remarkable that less than 25 % of the participants came from the organizing country.

Welcome Party

The conference began with a welcome party in the mensa of the university. The place was fairly crowded with some 1500 people. Many liters of local “Kölsch” beer contributed to lively discussions among conference participants.

Scientific Sessions

The international program committee (ICP) had chosen 99 symposia which led to about 1250 oral presentations in the 15 lecture halls. For plenary sessions the two Aula lecture rooms were combined to a large lecture room with 1077 seats. Access to additional lecture rooms was established, but not needed. The 1100 posters were displayed in three late afternoon sessions (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday) at the third floor of the Mensa building.

Keynote Speakers

There were 105 keynote speakers from 17 countries: USA (41), Germany (14), UK (14) etc. The keynote speakers received travel some support, depending on the distance they had to travel. A total of 48 000 € was provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for this purpose.


2367 abstracts are printed in a special volume of GCA (vol. 71, 15). Each participant received an CD with abstracts. Abstract volumes could be purchased by participants, session chairs received free copies.

Conference Organisers: Herbert Palme, Albrecht Hofmann

Program Committee: Herbert Palme (chair), Albrecht Hofmann (Mainz), Carsten Münker (Bonn), Sumit Chakraborty (Bochum)

Local Organising Committee: Philip Kegler (chair) and R. Kleinschrodt

R. Groß (Mainz), R. Hoffbauer, P. Hofmann, R. Hollerbach, M. Jens, M. Scheidt, H. Paulick, H. Prager (Mainz), R. Reucher, E. Stefan, G. Suhr

Student Helpers: 72 Students from the Universities of Cologne, Bonn and Bochum.

Cambridge Publicationd with Paul Beattie did an excellent job in organizing abstract submission, registration and establishing the the program structure.

Scientific Program

Plenary lectures

In a series of five plenary lectures entitled “Making the Earth in Five Days” the evolution of the Earth from its accretion to the formation of the present surface and the origin live were discussed:

Alessandro Morbidelli
Terrestrial Planet Formation: Our Solar System and Extra-solar Worlds

Paul Asimow
Magmatism and the Evolution of the Earth's Interior

John Valley
Evidence of the Earliest Crust on Earth

James Kirchner
The Chemistry of Earth's Dynamic Surface

Jochen Brocks
Molecular Fossils and Early Life on Earth

In addition, there were two more plenary lectures: The Geochemical Society Presidential Lecture by Susan Brantley: Bedrock to Soil: Earth's Weathering Engine
and the The Gast Lecture by Katherine Freeman: From Microbes to Mountains: Molecular Signatures of Life and its Environment.

The plenary lectures started each morning at 8:30. They were surprisingly well attended. The Gast lecture followed the 8:30 plenary lecture Tuesday morning and the President’s address was give Friday morning after the 8:30 plenary lecture.

Wednesday and Thursday morning plenary lectures were followed by the award ceremonies.

Award Ceremony, Wednesday, August 22

The following awards were presented:

Geochemical Society

2007 Clarke Medal: Ethan Baxter; Citationist: Don de Paolo

European Association for Geochemistry

2007 Houtermans Medal: Stephan Parman; Citationist: Tim Grove

Geochemical Society

2006 Patterson Medal: Fred MacKenzie; Citationist: John Morse

Geochemical Society and European Association for Geochemistry

New Fellows:Jill Banfield, Don Canfield, Marc Chaussidon, Jitendra Nath Goswami, Mark Harrison, Frank C. Hawthorne, Michael F. Hochella, Jr., Boaz Luz, Catherine McCammon, Judith McKenzie, Hugh St. Clair O'Neill, Robert O. Pepin, Mark H. Thiemens, David Vaughan, Arthur F. White

German Mineralogical Society (DMG)

Abraham-Gottlob-Werner-Medaille: Herbert Kroll

Viktor-Moritz-Goldschmidt-Preis: Thomas Zack

Geochemical Society of Japan

Geochemical Journal Award: Yuji Sano, Naoto Takahata, Yukiyasu Tsutsumi and Tomoharu Miyamoto

Award Ceremony, Thursday, August 23

European Association for Geochemistry

2007 Urey Medal: Harry Elderfield; Citationist: Ros Rickaby

Geochemical Society

2007 Goldschmidt Medal: Günter Lugmair; Citationist: G.J. Wasserburg

Geochemical Society

2007 Patterson Medal: Gordon Brown; Citationist: George Helz

Geochemical Society

2007 Distinguished Service Award: Michael Hochella

International Association of GeoChemistry

IAGC Vernadsky Medal: Fred Mackenzie,

IAGC Ebelmen Award: Dana Royer, Seifu Kebede

International Association of Geoanalysts

Early Career Award: Jerome Chmeleff

Shen-su Sun award: Yigang Xu

The strict time limit imposed by the organizers was not followed by awardees and citationists which led to some delays in the beginning of the normal morning sessions. It is recommended in future conferences to reduce the number of awards presented.


There were 25 exhibitors. Their fees went to the university to compensate for the use of lecture rooms (a total of ca. 30 000 €).

Panel Discussion: CO2-Sequestration

Wednesday afternoon there was a panel discussion on CO2-sequestration. The discussion was in German but conference participants could follow the discussion by simultaneous translation. About 500 people were present. Representatives of the major German energy providers as well as representatives of various research institutions discussed the potential and the dangers of CO2-sequestration. Discussion leader was Gerold Wefer (University of Bremen).

Conference Dinner

Wednesday evening the conference dinner was served in the Gürzenich, the traditional ballroom and reception hall of the City Council of Cologne. The two Crawfoord Prize winners for geolgy of 1986, C. J. Allègre and G. J. Wasserburg were present and gave short addresses. The Gürzenich was fully booked with 1500 people, including some 500 students. More than 1000 liters of beer were consumed.

Student support

The Goldschmidt Travel Support Program had a total of 45 000 €. The Geochemical Society gave 7314 €, the Geochemical Society of Japan 2400 € and the German Mineralogical Society 5000 €. The ESF_Archean Environment Program supported one student and one keynote speaker (1400 €). The rest was Conference money.

There were about 140 applications. A committee led by Johnson Haas selected 72 students and researchers, 50 students received 500 € and 20 students 1000 € each. The student support program was very effective and it should be continued and extended in further Goldschmidt Conferences.


We had planned 6 excursions, to Crete, Italian Alps, Nördlingen, Eifel (2) and Siebengebierge. Only two one-day excursions (Siebengebierge, Eifel) a had a sufficient number of participants. The other excursions were cancelled.


A number of workshops was organized before and after the Goldschmidt Conference, some at different locations. All of them were well attended.

International School of Isotope Geology

9th EMU School

IODP Topical Symposium: North Atlantic and Arctic Climate Variability

Fluid-Fluid Equilibria in the Crust

European Mantle Workshop (EMAW2007)

H. Palme