S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Kuntz, Mr Julius (geology)

Born: 18 February 1865, Gotha, Thuringen, Germany.
Died: October 1940, Kleinmachnow, near Berlin, Germany.

Julius Kuntz, German mining engineer and geologist, qualified in Freiburg, Germany, in 1891 and gained practical experience in the mines of Sachsen. In October 1893 he applied from Frottstadt (a village in the district of Gotha, in Thuringia, Germany) for an appointment as mining inspector in the South African Republic (Transvaal), but apparently without success. However, two years later he had arrived in the territory, representing a German mining company. During the next eleven years he investigated many gold mines on the Witwatersrand as well as diamond, gold, copper, iron and coal deposits in South Africa, German South West Africa (now Namibia), East Africa, and Madagascar.

Kuntz was an early member of the Geological Society of South Africa (founded in 1895) and played an active role in its proceedings from its first year. In October 1895 he read an important paper before its members on "The Rand conglomerates: How they were formed". The paper was published in the society's Transactions (Vol. 1, pp. 113-122). Like F.H. Hatch* and J.A. Chalmers* he agreed with J. Ballot* that the conglomerates were marginal sea deposits. He was the first person to conclude that the northern margin of the Witwatersrand basin was situated at Johannesburg, and the southern margin in the northern Free State.

Meanwhile he also published papers in Germany on the geology of the Witwatersrand (1896) and the gold deposits of the Lydenburg district (1896), and commented in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa on papers dealing with the geology of the Witwatersrand by D. Draper*, G. Schmitz-Dumont*, F.H. Hatch*, and A. Prister*. In 1901, shortly after the British occupation of Transvaal during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) he requested permission to return to Johannesburg. After the conclusion of the war he read a paper on "The Main Reef horizon in the Klerksdorp district" (Transactions, 1903, Vol. 6, pp. 106-110). He served on the committee of the society in 1903/4 and as vice-president in 1905, but was no longer listed as a member the next year. By 1906 he was also a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science.

From about 1903 Kuntz worked mainly on the ore deposits of Namibia and the German territories in East Africa. His paper on "Copper ore in South-West Africa" was published in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa (Vol. 7, pp. 70-77) in 1904. He emphasized the origins of the copper deposits, and gave considerable attention to the geology of the copper district of Little Namaqualand (Northern Cape). He concluded that the basal granites and gneisses had changed locally into layers of mica schist or quatzite, noted that the old schists contained much pyrite, and listed the minerals they contained.

Two of his papers dealt with the geology, and particularly the gold deposits, of East Africa and were published in the Zeitschrift fuer Praktische Geologie in 1909. Further publications in German journals dealt with the origin of the Namibian diamonds (1909, 1913), mining in the German colonies (1909, 1912, 1913), and gold deposits and gold recovery in Madagascar (1910).

During 1910-1912 Kunz undertook an expedition to the Kaokoveld, in north-western Namibia. The results were published in several papers: "Die geographischen Resultate der kaokoexpedition, 1910-1912" (Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft fuer Erdkunde zu Berlin, 1913), a short but excellent systematic description; "Ueber die geologischen Verhaeltnisse des Kaokoveldes" (Zeitschrift der deutschen geologischen Gesellschaft, Monatsberichte, 1912); a geological map of the Kaokoveld on a scale of 1:800 000 (Zeitschrift fuer praktische Geologie, 1913); and "Die Owatschimba im noerdlichen Kaokoveld (SWA)" (Pettermanns Mitteilungen, 1912), a brief account of a Herero splinter group.

Shortly before World War I (1914-1918) he carried out investigations on behalf of German mining and financial institutions in Asia Minor and Siebenbuergen (now in Romania). During the war he worked in the Balkan countries for the raw materials division of the German War Ministry. After the war, in 1920, he went to South America to do work for the Chilian government, using the opportunity to visit also Argentina and Bolivia. His reports for the Chilian government were published in Spanish by its Ministry of Industry. From 1929 he was employed in Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Sardinia, Ethiopia, and Indonesia, before finally returning to Germany in 1937. He was an outstanding example of the corps of German mining engineers who, on the basis of their experience all over the world early in the twentieth century, played such a prominent role in the international development of geology and mining.

List of sources:
Geological Society of South Africa. Transactions, 1897, 1899, Vol. 2, 4.

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

Harger, H.S. Historical notes on the Geological Society of South Africa. Proceedings of the Geological Society of South Africa, 1939, Vol. 42, pp. lxvii-lxxiv.

Logan, R.F. Bibliography of South West Africa, geography and related fields. Windhoek: South West Africa Scientific Society, 1969.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Kuntz, Julius / Kuntz, J.

Neue Deutsche Biographie. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1952-.

Pretorius, D.A. The depositional environment of the Witwatersrand goldfields: A chronological review of speculations and observations. Minerals Science and Engineering, 1975, Vol. 7(1), pp. 18-47.

South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1905/6, list of members.

South African Committee for Stratigraphy (SACS). Stratigraphy of South Africa. Part 1: Lithostratigraphy.... Pretoria: Geological Survey, Handbook 8, 1980.

Compiled by: C. Plug