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Xie Xuejing (1923-2017)

On Friday 24, 2017 we lost an outstanding geochemist, Chinese father of exploration geochemistry, and one of the pioneers of global geochemical mapping:  Prof. Xie Xuejing. He peacefully passed away accompanied by his children, his students and colleagues at a hospital in Beijing, China.

Prof. Xie was born on May 21, 1923 in Beijing, China. From August 1941 to July 1945, he studied in Physics Department and then transferred to Chemistry Department of Zhejiang University. From August 1945 to July 1946, his university education was stopped for one year and he worked at Xiaolongkan Oil Factory of Chongqing. From August 1946, he continued his study in Chongqing University and graduated from the Chemistry Department in July 1947. From August 1947 to October 1949, he worked as a analyst at Nanjing Yongli Chemical Factory. In 1949 he married Li Meisheng, and together they had 5 children, Xie Yuanhong, Xie Yuanru, Xie Yuanpei, Xie Yuanjie and Xie Yuanquan.

From November of 1949 to January of 1953, he worked as a geoanalyst in Chemical Laboratory of Nanjing Mineral Exploration Bureau. From February of 1953 to January of 1957, he served as a junior researcher at Geochemical Prospecting Division of Ministry of Geology. From February 1957 to now, he worked as a geochemist, senior geochemists, director of the Exploration Geocheistry Division, vice director the Institute of Geophysical and Geochemical Exploration (IGGE), Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. He was elected as an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1980 and served as the Honorable Director of the IGGE since 1983.  He was a member of the Association of Applied Geochemists, chairperson of Chinese Association of Exploration Geochemistry.

Prof. Xie was the founder of exploration geochemistry in China. He conducted the first geochemical exploration activity in China in Anhui Province with the systematic sampling and chemical analysis of rocks, soils and stream sediments and plants in the search for copper deposits in 1951. In the late 1950s with the study of element zonation in primary halos during which he developed methods that were widely applied in geochemical exploration for mineral deposits in China. In 1970s, Prof. Xie initiated and designed China Regional Geochemistry -National Reconnaissance (RGNR) Project, also known as the China National Geochemical Mapping Project. Over the past nearly 40 years, the project has covered more than seven million square kilometers. This project has led to China having the most remarkable national geochemical database in the world and ledt to discoveries of about 2500 mineral ore deposits up to now. The most exciting of these is its contribution to discovery of the total reserve of 4000 tons of gold.

Prof. Xie devoted his research to the systematicness of geochemical mapping, including the studies of cell sampling methodology, reference materials, laboratory chemical analysis and quality control etc. This research has made great contribution to China high-quality geochemical data and atlas based on the 30-year's sampling campaign and more than 30 laboratories' sample analyses.

Prof. Xie was one of the pioneers of global geochemical mapping. He was one of the initiators for IGCP 259 and IGCP 360. Prof. Xie played an important role in designing the protocols for international geochemical mapping as a member of the steering committee for IGCP 259 and IGCP 360. He conducted the Environmental Geochemical Monitoring Network (EGMON) project in China as pilot study of Global Geochemical Mapping Project from 1993 to 1996. His idea of floodplain sediment sampling was put forward in this project. Total 520 floodplain sediment samples was used to cover the most part of China with the similar general geochemical overview compared to that based on the high density stream sediment sampling data of the RGNR. In order to meet the chemical analytical requirements of IGCP 259/360 recommendations, Prof. Xie proposed to composite samples from the RGNR samples (25 samples covering 100 km2 were composited into 1 sample) for chemical analysis of 76 elements (71 elements as recommended by IGCP 259 plus Os, Ir, Ru, Rh and Re) in 2000. This project has promoted to development of a 76-element laboratory analytical technology. This project has produced 76-element geochemical atlas covering 2.5 million square kilometers of South-west and Southern China from 2000 to 2010.

Prof. Xie was a strategic scientist. In late 1990s, he put forward the Nation-wide Geological Survey Program which integrated investigation work and scientific study, and the Multi-purpose and Multi-scale Geochemical Mapping Project etc.  

Prof. Xie, as an international geochemist, initiated the establishment of international research centre on global geochemical mapping. With his active promotion, the UNESCO International Centre on Global-scale Geochemistry was officially established with the approval by the UNESCO and Chinese Government in May 2016.

Prof. Xie was a fine teacher. He, as a supervisor of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences and an emeritus professor at Changchun Colleage of Geology (Jilin University), China University of Geosciences (Beijing), has mentored twenty Maters and PhD students who are currently taking on leadership roles in geochemical exploration, environmental and agricultural geochemical mapping and global geochemical baselines studies.

Prof. Xie received the China Science Conference Prize in 1978, the China State Science and Technology Progress Prize in 2008, the Gold Medal Award of Association of Applied Geochemists in 2007 for his remarkable achievements in the field of applied geochemistry. Prof. Xie had 180 publications both in Chinese and in English.

Prof. Xie, we will miss you enormously and we are so grateful for your long lasting legacy in exploration geochemistry and geochemical mapping.