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Journal of a Geologist

Journal of a Geologist

Journal of a Geologist is a very interesting autobiography of the practical and academic pioneer of South West African and South African geology, Gerhard Söhnge.
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Title: Journal of a Geologist
Author: Gerhard Söhnge
Genre: Autobiography
Publisher: Geology Department of the University of Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch, South Africa 2001
ISBN 0-7972-0880-1 / ISBN 0797208801
ISBN 978-0-7972-0880-3 / ISBN 9780797208803
Hardcover, 18 x 26 cm, 197 pages, several b/w- and colour photos

About: Journal of a Geologist

"As far as I am concerned nothing happened in Saron before I was born". With dedicate humor Professor Gerhard Söhnge tells his life as a geologist. The first two chapters of his autobiography Journal of a Geologist contain his reminiscences of the Rhenish missionary parsonages at Saron, (Tulbagh District) and Worcester, where he grew up. This forms an interesting piece of cultural history. Thereafter the scene changes to Stellenbosch where Prof. S. J. Shand persuaded him to become a geologist and to conduct field work for at least ten years before contemplating marriage. His first experiences as a geologist were in the employ of the Geological Survey from 1935 to 1938 and again from 1940 to 1945. His descriptions of geological field work in those days can serve as inspiration for a later generation. In the two-year interval he studied at Harvard University and gained his PhD in 1944, based on research on the copper deposits at Messina. He also visited mines across the USA to sharpen his knowledge of economic geology.

Before being appointed as Professor at Stellenbosch University in 1968, Gerhard Sohnge made his mark especially in the copper mining industry. His pioneering work together with John de Villiers in the virgin territory of the Richtersveld led to five years as geologist for the O'okiep Copper Company in Namaqualand. In 1950 he was transferred to Tsumeb Mine, where he was chief geologist for eighteeen years and availed himself of the opportunity to investigate countless mine prospects throughout SWA (Namibia). Dr. Sohnge won fame as a practical geologist and as an academic. He was elected President of the Geological Society of SA in 1963 and honoured six years later with the Society's highest award, the Draper Memorial Medal. In 1959-1960 he was regional vice-president for Africa of the "Society of Economic Geologists" of the USA. The "Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir the Havenga Prize for Geology to him and Dr. O. R. van Eeden in 1975. At the end of 1978 he retired. Journal of a Geologist does not contain "shrewd scientific ideas", in the words, since it was written in gratitude for an interesting life.

Content: Journal of a Geologist

Saron: 1913-1922
School years in Worcester: 1922-1930
University years in Stellenbosch: 1931-1934
First term at Geological Survey: 1935-1938
Postgraduate studies in the USA: 1938-1940
Second term at Geological Survey: 1940-1945
Five years in the O'okiep copper district: 1945-1950
Wonderful years in Tsumeb: 1950-1968
The academic plunge: Stellenbosch: 1968-1978
Retirement: Old yet not cold: 1979-1995


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