Richard Beck was a German geologist who published many geological papers and explanations of geological maps during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, most of them dealing with the geology of Saxony, Germany. Ten of his papers related to the geology of southern Africa. The first two of these and a later one dealt with the diamond deposits of Griqualand West and appeared in the Zeitschrift fuer Praktische Geologie in 1898, 1899 and 1907. In 1905 he visited southern Africa and attended the joint meetings of the British and South African Associations for the Advancement of Science as one of a number of non-British scientists. On 29 August 1905, at the meeting of the two associations in Johannesburg, he delivered a paper titled "On the relation between ore veins and pegmatites" in which he explained pegmatites as products of crystallisation from superheated water which remains after the consolidation of a plutonic magma. The paper was published in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa (Vol. 8, p. 147) the same year.
Beck's visit to southern Africa provided material for several additional publications. In one of these, Ueber eine Fahrt durch Suedafrika (Essen, 1905, 70p), he dealt with his travels and some geological observations. In another he described a mastodon tooth recovered from the Vaal River gravels (Geological Magazine, 1906, pp. 49-50), which probably stimulated interest in the archaeology of the gravels. Some of his other papers were published in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa. One of these dealt with a kyanite-bearing rock from the Roberts Victor diamond mine (1906, Vol. 9, p. 48), another with the cobalt lodes of the Transvaal (1907, Vol. 10, p. 10), and yet another with the gold-bearing rock of the Ayrshire Mine in Zimbabwe (1907, Vol. 10, p. 13). In recognition of his contributions to South African geology he was elected an honorary member of the Geological Society of South Africa in 1909.
Beck's major interest was in ore deposits. He wrote an extensive treatise on the subject titled Lehre von den Erzlagerstaetten (Berlin, 1901, 724p; 3rd ed. 1909), which was translated into English in 1905 as The nature of ore deposits.