S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Huebner, Mr Friedrich Adolf (geology)

Born: 1843, Germany .
Died: 1905, Place not known.

(Friedrich) Adolf (or Adolph) Huebner was a mining engineer from Freiberg, Sachsen, Germany. During 1868 to 1871 he travelled in southern Africa to study its geology and search for minerals. Upon landing at Durban he learned of the geological work done by P.C. Sutherland* in Natal, and after examining the rocks named claystone-porphyry by A.G. Bain* he agreed with Sutherland that they were of glacial origin. Later he found the same rocks (now recognised as Dwyka tillite) at the bottom of the Karoo beds near Bloemhof in the south-western Transvaal. From Natal he travelled to the Free State via Van Reenen's Pass, and on to the diamond fields of Griqualand West, discovered in 1867. He noticed the association of the diamonds with ilmenite, olivine and pyrope (garnet) at Du Toit's Pan and Bultfontein, but reached no conclusion about the parent rock. Near present Kimberley G.S. Higson* pointed out to him the difference in age between the agate-bearing amygdaloidal greenstone and the younger, darker greenstone; also that the shales there were underlain by claystone-porphyry.

In May 1869 Huebner was at Potchefstroom, where he met Karl Mauch* and Eduard Mohr*. Later that month he accompanied Mohr on a visit to the Wonderfontein Cave, near present Oberholzer, an extensive dolomite cave which is a major source of the Mooi River. He then became Mohr's geological guide on a journey to the Victoria Falls. From Potchefstroom they travelled to Tati (near present Francistown) in Botswana and via Inyati, Matabeleland, on to the Zambesi River. Mohr reached the falls in June 1870, but by that time Huebner had already turned back to the Transvaal. During the journey from Potchefstroom to Inyati he had made regular meteorological observations that were described in a paper by Mohr in 1872. He also published two papers in the Zeitschrift fuer Ethnologie on rock engravings on the farm Gestopte Fontein, near Potchefstroom (1871) and on the ancient ruins of Matabeleland (1871).

Huebner's geological observations were published in, among others, two papers in Petermann's Mitteilungen (1871, 1872) and an appendix in Mohr's Nach den Victoriafallen des Zambesi (1875). Moreover, on 20 June 1870 he read a paper in Durban before the Natural History Association of Natal, "Geology of the interior of South-Eastern Africa. Notes on the geological features of the country between Potchefstroom and Nyati". Part of this paper was published in Durban that same year. He described mainly the basement granite and associated rocks. From inclusions of granite and slate in the volcanic rocks of the Pilanesberg he concluded that these rocks were the youngest in the area.

After his travels in South Africa Huebner returned to Freiberg. He published only one later paper, dealing with mining in Mexico, in 1876. He is possibly the same person as Adolf Huebner, mining engineer and metallurgist from Freiberg, after whom the mineral Huebnerite, a tungstate of manganese (MnWO4), was named in 1865, although he was only 22 years old at the time.

List of sources:
Corstorphine, G.S. The history of stratigraphical investigation in South Africa. Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, 1904, pp. 145-181.

Craven, S.A. The contribution of Emil Holub (1847-1902) to South African speleology. Quarterly Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa, 2000, Vol. 55(2), pp. 80-85.

Fortsch, E. Kartographische und geologische Erschliessung. Lantern, 1992, Vol. 41, pp. 98-102.

Google scholar. http://scholar.google.co.za Publications by Adolf Huebner.

Hall, A.L. A bibliography of South African geology to the end of 1920. Pretoria: Geological Survey, Memoir No. 18, 1922.

Rogers, A.W. The pioneers in South African geology and their work. Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa, 1937, Annexure to Volume 39, pp. 1-139.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

Tabler, E.C. Pioneers of Rhodesia. Cape Town: Struik, 1966.

Venter, R.J. Bibliography of regional meteorological literature. Vol. 1. Southern Africa, 1486-1948 (paper by E. Mohr). Pretoria: Weather Bureau, 1949.

Compiled by: C. Plug