March 31, 2023

The collection that the famous geologist gathered here in the Urals and Altai allowed him to discover new minerals. An original technique for describing geological rocks is named after him. In addition, roselite, bearing the name of its discoverer, reminds of the scientific merits of the scientist.

Gustav Rose, one might say, was destined to become a famous explorer. His grandfather Valentin Rose was a chemist who invented a low melting point alloy, Rose’s Alloy. The family business was continued by Valentin Jr., both of whose sons also made good scientific careers. They became professors at the University of Berlin: older brother Heinrich was a chemist, and Gustav was a geologist. This was already the third generation of a dynasty of scientists.

Mineralogy Gustav Rose began to study in his youth at the same university, where he was later destined to become a professor. But in order to deepen his knowledge, he went to Stockholm to study with the famous physicist and chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius, where he became friends with Eilhard Mitscherlich. Young people preferred scientific studies to a fun pastime, and this zeal bore fruit. Mitcherlich discovered isomorphism – the ability of chemical elements to replace each other in the structure of a crystal. Rose, on the other hand, developed his own method of systematizing minerals, based on their chemical composition and crystal form. The result was a crystal-chemical system of Rosé minerals.

In 1829, the famous Alexander von Humboldt received an invitation from St. Petersburg to make a scientific expedition to the Urals, Altai and the Caspian Sea. Together with the renowned scientist, Gustav Rose also went, who was given the task of conducting mineralogical studies. The third companion on the journey was Christian Ehrenberg, who studied microorganisms.

Funds for the trip came from the Russian treasury, the crews for the trip were also allocated in St. Petersburg. For the professors, they collected all the available maps and descriptions of the area where they were to visit, Obergittenferwalter Menshenin, who not only spoke fluent German and French, but also had a good understanding of mining history and statistics of the Russian Empire, became their escort. The owners and managers of the factories were warned about the visit of scientists, who were ordered to provide all possible assistance. They agreed ahead of time on the apartments where they were to stay – Russian hospitality made a fair impression on Rosa.

“Despite all our efforts to be as less burdensome as possible to our host, we caused him, however, a lot of inconvenience, and for all this he did not even have a reward to have a good talk with us, since we could not speak Russian at all, and our conversation with him, of necessity, had to be carried out through our servant, who, however, knew the Russian language perfectly. However, we never saw that our master treated us unfriendly: he was always extremely polite and helpful and always to forestall our desires, which we can only remember with the greatest gratitude.”

Gustav Rose, from a report on a trip to the Urals, Altai and the Caspian Sea

On May 1, the travelers arrived in St. Petersburg, from where they reached the Urals via Moscow, Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan. Here, the researchers stayed for several weeks, visiting iron and iron factories, getting acquainted with gold mines and conducting geological surveys. In the book that Gustav Rose published at the end of the expedition, he meticulously describes almost every stone encountered along the way, every rock that makes up the Ural Mountains. The professor was especially interested in deposits of iron and gold ores, native platinum and malachite. Rosé diluted information about mineralogy in places with his own impressions of the trip, thanks to which his work turned into fascinating reading for the general public.

“What a quick transition from winter to summer! We left the Neva at a time when ice was flowing along it, and in the Urals, three weeks later, we found these grasses in full bloom. The weather of that day was the most pleasant; bright, clear, warm day, and even more strengthened the impression that this first approach to the Urals made on us. It was Sunday. Trinity Day was celebrated in Klenovaya. All the inhabitants were on the street, in front of the gates of houses and enjoyed both the holiday and the bright warm day ” .

Gustav Rose, from a report on a trip to the Urals, Altai and the Caspian Sea

Following the Urals, the time has come for Siberia – the travelers went to Tobolsk, Barnaul, Semipalatinsk and Omsk. Having collected the necessary data and materials there, we turned towards the Southern Urals, reached Orenburg, studied the rock salt deposit in Iletsk and drove to Astrakhan. In November, the scientists returned to St. Petersburg, and from there to their homeland, where Rose had already arrived as a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. His impressions of the journey were the most rosy.

“Everywhere, care was best applied to a quick, where necessary, ride forward; at all mines and factories they were already waiting for us and immediately upon our arrival they introduced us to everything worthy of inspection; mining officers always accompanied us on excursions. there was absolutely no time spent without use; and we could study the subjects of interest to us much sooner than it would have been possible under other circumstances, and in a short period of time, less than six months, we managed to go around the Urals for almost 9 degrees of latitude, from Bogoslovsk to Orsk, and Altai from Barnaul to the Mongol-Chinese border on the Irtysh, visited Astrakhan and sailed the Caspian Sea.”

Gustav Rose, from a report on a trip to the Urals, Altai and the Caspian Sea

The collected minerals were enough for the scientist for ten years of work. He studied in detail the materials brought from Russia, identified 117 different rocks, and some of them had never been described before Rose – for example, cancrinite and rhodicite. He published the results of his work in a scientific article in 1839 and in a detailed report, which was published in 1842.

In 1850, the professor again gathered on an expedition, this time to Italy – he explored Vesuvius, Etna and the Aeolian Islands, together with his old friend Mitcherlich. From the volcanic islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Rose turned to the study of the extinct volcanoes of the Massif Central in southern France, where he went in 1852.

Returning from a trip, the scientist focused on teaching and academic work – students at the University of Berlin demanded his attention, from 1856 Rose was appointed director of the Royal Mineralogical Museum, and from 1863 he became president of the German Geological Society. But the brightest period of his life, as well as the most famous work of the famous geologist, remained associated with a trip to Russia.

Olga Ladygina

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