Miklukho-Maklay, Mikhail Nikolaevich

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(b. Rozhdestvensky, Novgorod gubernia, Russia, 1857; d. Leningrad, U.S.S.R., 12 April 1927)


Miklukho’s father, Nikolay Ivanovich Miklukho, a hereditary nobleman, was an engineer who helped to construct the railroad between St . Petersburg and Moscow . His mother, Ekaterina Semenovna Bekker, was the daughter of an officer The suffix Maklay was added to the family name by his brother Nikolay Nikolaevich–for reasons that have never been fully clarified .

After graduating from the St. Petersburg Mining Institute in 1886 Miklukho sent to strasbourg University, where he studied under K.H.F. Rosenbusch. He attended lectures for three semesters and determined various minerals in the laboratory using Rosenbusch’s physical in the laboratory using Rosenbusch’s physcial–optical methods. After returning to Russia, he began work at the museum of the Mining Institute and as curator of the gological Committee. at the suggestion of the Committee’’s director, Miklukho conducted microscopic research on 180 samples of ore and rock from the second Zavodinsky mine in the Altai. Compiling a detailed map of the excavations, on which he showed the sites from which the samples taken, he used the results of his analysis to compile a geological cross secion of the vein. The deposits he concluded, represented a thick lode falling almost vertically from northeast to south west and consisting basically of quartz, hornstone, and porphyry at the edges.

Miklukho began geological field work as a student at the Mining Institute. During the summers of 1885 and 1886 he conducted geological research in the little–studied Nogorod–Volynsk and Zhitomir districts of Volynsk gubernia, especially the norther slope of the watershd of the basin of the Pripet and southern Bug rivers. Widespred in this region were post–tertiary granite vins in archean deposits–analogous, in his opinion, to the beds of saxony. Besides deseribing the geological structure, he fond rich deposits of iron, ore, frequently in the form of lumps containing 45 to 50 percent pure iron. He also noted the accumulation of ocher, deposits of clay, and building materials–gneiss, granite, gabbro. Miklukho was especially interested in gneiss, thin sections of which from outcroppings seemed, under the microscope, to be nonhomogeous in comparison with thin secion os the main rock.

In 1888–1890 Miklukho, on instructions from the Imperial Russian Mineralogicl Sociy, investigated the geological structure of Olonets gubernia. Besides producing an accurate geological map, he was commissioned to make a petrographical comparison of genisses with massive and ancient sedimenary rock of Olonets and Volynsk gubernias. This could help to determiner the origin of slates. In the Olonets district he investigated the basins of the Svir, Olonka, Tuloksa, Vidlitsa, and Tulmozerka rivers, and the shores of Lake Ladoga. Part of the territory, composed of crystalline rock formations, consisted of high cliffs, some with perpendicular and others with mildly sloping sides, with glacial material between them.

Miklukho explored several islands on Lake Ladoga and compiled a geological map that included only those features that he had observed and sampled. His identification of bog iron deposits was particularly important for that region. Later, in 1898, he proposed a method of determining bog iron reserves with the aid of a sand pump used in petroleum production. In the deposits on the shores of Kandalaksha Bay, he noted traces of the lowering of the level of the White Sea, which he believed had occurred at the rate of three or four feet a century.

In 1891 Miklukho conducted microscopic investigation of gneisses and compared them with ancient sedimentary formations and rocks. He concluded that the gnisses of the Kem and Olonets districts were formed by the “breking up of the rock by mechanical forces at the time of orognesis and subsequent hydrochemical processes.”He proposed to designate these rocks as “dynamohydro–metamorphic.” In March 1892 Miklukho reportd to the Imperial Russian Mineralogical society on the difference that he had noted in the “glacial deposit” in the Kem and Olonets districts. “the glacial cover that formerly coverd the north of Russia,” he saimd, “consisted of separate glaciers of varying sizes.” The glacial cover “moved from the borders of Finland to the White Sea” at different velocities. The moraines of different sizes were evidence of the variations in movement.

In the summer of 1892 Miklukho conducted geological research between Archangel and the towns of Onega and the divide between the White Sea and lake Onega, as well as in the basins of the llek, Vama, and Vodla rivers. He concluded that the hypothesis of a former connection between the White and Baltic seas was highly probalble and that the wide distribution of stratified formations in Olonets gubernia could serve as confirmation of this theory. Miklukho discovered the origin of the salt springs around Nenoksa, Luda, Uma, and Kyanda and also introduced numerous corrections into the gological map. In the summer of 1893 he continued research on the banks of the white Sea and decided that the shoreline in Onega Bay was receding.

From 1886 to 1897, Miklukho compiled the index to gelogical literature taht was published by S.N. Nikitin as Russkaya gologicheskaya biblioteka (“Russian Gological Library,” 1886–1900). In 1897 Miklukho traveled from St. Petersburg to Kiev gubernia, then to the Urals, Mangyshlak, and other regions, prospecting for kaolin, manganese, gold, and iron. He did not return to Leningrad until 1923, when he resumed work at the Geological Committee. He also continued to cmpile bibliogruphies of geological literature


Miklukho’s works include “Microskopicheskie issledovania obraztsov rud i porod vtorogo Zavodinskogo rudnika no Altae” (“Microscopic Research on Samples of Ore and Rock From the Second Zavodinsky Mine in the Altai”), in izvestiya Geologicheskago komiteta, 8 no.9(1889). 93; “Geologicheskie issledovania Novo–gradvolynskogo i Zitomirskogo uezdov Volyskoy gubernii’ (“Geological Research on the Novgorod–Volynsk and Zhitomir Districts of Volynsk gubernia”), in Materialy dlya geologii Rossii (“Materials for a Geology of Russia”) , XIV (St. Petersburg, 1890), 3; and “Geologichesky ocherk Olonetskogo uezda i ostrovov Ladozhskogo ozera. raspolozhennykh vokrug Valaama” (“Geological Sketch of the Olonets District and the Islands of Lake Ladoga, around Valaam”), ibid XVIII (St. Petersburg. 1897). 173.

There is an obituary in Geologicheskii vestnik, 5, nos 4–5 (1926–1927), 76. On the origin of the name Miklukho–Maklay. see D.N. Anuchin, “N.N Miklukho–Maklay, ego zhizn, puteshetvia in sudba ego trudov” (“…His Life. Travels, and the Fate of His Works”), in o lyudyakh russkoy nauki i kultury “people of Russian Science and Culture”), 2nd ed. (Moscow, 1952),30.

Tatyana D. Ilyina
Vera N. Fedchina