S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Voit, Dr Friedrich W (geology)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Friedrich W. Voit, German geologist, described gold deposits in the Phillipines (1898), and his travels as a mining geologist in Borneo (1899), in the Berg- und Huettenmaennische Zeitung. He was awarded the doctoral degree in geology by the University of Rostock in 1901 on the basis of a thesis entitled Geognostische Schilderung der Lagerstaetten-verhaltnisse von Dobschau in Ungarn... (Geological description of the relations between the strata of Dobschau, Hungary - a region now part of Slovakia). He subsequently published a paper on an occurrence of copper ore in Angola (1902).

In 1903 Voit was involved in geological exploration in Damaraland, German South West Africa (now Namibia) for the firm A. Goetz & Co., Ltd of London. During that year he was recruited by Gustav B. Duft* as the first government geologist in the territory. He was joined by Heinrich Lotz* in February 1904. His first task was to study the Nama Group of sediments and their possible correlation with the Karoo sequence and its coal-bearing horizons. In 1904 he published "A contribution to the geology of German South West Africa" in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa (1904, Vol. 7(2), pp. 77-94). This paper represented the first significant attempt at establishing a stratigraphic scheme for the succession of rocks found in the territory. His scheme, and those proposed by several later authors, rested on the assumption that the degree of metamorphism indicated the relative age of rock strata. Hence all the crystalline schists and their intrusive suits underlying the Nama and Karoo strata were grouped together in a Primary Formation.

Around 1906 Voit was stationed in Swakopmund and made responsible for regulating the mining activity in the Swakopmund district. He was however able to do limited research on the copper deposits of the Otavi Mountainland and the diamond finds between Meob Bay and Conception Bay. Further papers by him dealing with the region's mineral deposits appeared in German journals during the next few years. These included a discussion of the geology of the copper ore regions along the Kuiseb River (with G.D. Stollreither, 1905), comments on the ore deposits at Tsumeb (1908), and a description of the diamond fields at Conception Bay (1910).

During these same years Voit also investigated problems relating to the geology of South Africa. One of these was the age of the gneisses along the Limpopo River (now included in the Limpopo metamorphic province). In two papers on this topic in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa (1906, Vol. 8, pp. 106-107 and 141-146) he concluded that these gneisses were older than the Swaziland Beds and named them the Limpopo Formation, which he considered part of a Fundamental Gneiss Formation in South Africa. Another topic to which he gave considerable attention was the occurrence of Kimberlite and the origin of the diamonds it sometimes contained. Three papers relating to this topic appeared in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa in 1907, one in the Mining Journal (London, 1908) and two in the Zeitschrift fuer Praktische Geologie (Berlin, 1907, 1908). The latter journal furthermore published papers by him on diamonds occurring in diabase (1908) and in pegmatite (1908).

In 1911 Voit formally proposed that a Geological Survey, including a proper laboratory, be established in German South West Africa. As a result a geological laboratory was acquired in Swakopmund, but was moved to Windhoek in 1912. Voit continued his work until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

By 1906 Voit was a member of the Geological Society of South Africa, with an address in Johannesburg. He was also a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science at this time, though no longer in 1910.

List of sources:
Gesamtverzeichnis des deurschsprachigen Schrifttums (GV), 1700-1910. M√ľnchen: K.G. Saur, 1979-1987.

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

Hugo, P.J., Schalk, K.E.L. & Barnes, S-J. Bibliography of South West African / Namibian earth science. Windhoek: Geological Survey, 1983.

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

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

Schneider, G.I.C. The history of the Geological Survey of Namibia. Communications of the Geological Survey of Namibia, 2000, Vol. 12, pp. 1-14.

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... (Comp. L.E. Kent). Pretoria: Geological Survey, Handbook 8, 1980.

Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa, 1906, Vol. 10, list of members.

Compiled by: C. Plug