Prof. Dr. Harry Becker



Becker, Prof. Dr. Harry

Geochemistry (Arbeitsbereich Geochemie)


Address Malteserstr. 74-100
Room 230, Building B
12249 Berlin
Office Michaela Schreiber
Telephone +49 30 - 838 706 68

Office hours

Research Interests

Evolution and differentiation processes in the Earth and other terrestrial planets. More specifically:

  • Isotopic heterogeneities, element fractionation and chronology of events in the early solar system.
  • Element fractionation and mass transfer processes between Earth’s crust and mantle.
  • Evolution of the Precambrian surface system.
  • Cooling histories and exhumation of high-grade and high-pressure metamorphic rocks (the “early days”) 


1994             Dr. rer nat. (Geochemistry, summa cum laude),

                    Geochemistry Division of the MaxPlanck-Institut für Chemie,

                    Mainz and Universität Mainz, Germany

                    Dissertation Title: Cooling History and Geochemistry of High-temperature Garnet

                    Peridotite Complexes From Lower Austria (Southern Bohemian Massif)

                    Advisor: Prof. Dr. A. W. Hofmann

1990             Diplom (Mineralogy) Universität Karlsruhe, Germany

                    Advisor: Prof. Dr. R. Altherr

Professional Experience

Since 2004    C4-University Professor (Geochemistry) and Head of the Geochemistry Group at

                    Instiute of Geological Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2004             Visiting Scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX, U.S.

2000-2004     Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Geology,

                    University of Maryland at College Park, MD, U.S.

1997-2000     Research Associate / Lab manager, Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory,

                    and Lecturer (1999-2000), Department of ,Geology,

                    University of Maryland at College Park, MD, U.S.

1995-1997     Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism,

                    Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C., U.S.

1994-1995     Postdoctoral Fellow, Geochemistry Division,

                    Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Mainz, Germany

1990-1993     Graduate Research Fellow, Geochemistry Division, Max-Planck-Institut für

                    Chemie, Mainz, Germany

1987-1990     Research Assistant, Department for Petrography and Geochemistry, Universität

                    Karlsruhe, Germany

Professional Activities

Department Council (2007-2015)

Dean of Research (2007-2011)

Contributions to “Dynamische Erde – Zukunftsaufgaben der Geowissenschaften” (2010, Geokommission, DFG)

Chair Geochemistry Section of the Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft (2009-2011)

Co-chair of the Meeting of the Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft in Berlin (2008)

Guest Editor and Member of the Associate Editorial Board of Chemical Geology

Reviewer for various funding organizations (NSF, NASA, NERC, FWF, DFG) and journals

Chair and Convener at AGU Fall meetings and Goldschmidt conferences

Awards and Fellowships

2004           Lunar and Planetary Institute Visiting Scientist Fellowship

1995-1997   Research Fellowship of the German Research Foundation

1995           NATO Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

1994-1995   Postdoctoral Research Fellowship of the Max-Planck-Society

1990-1993   Graduate Research Fellowship of the Max-Planck-Society

1988-1989   Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes Fellowship

Courses Given

Since 2004 at FU Berlin:

  • Early Evolution of the Earth (MSc, 8 students) 3 h/week (2012)
  • Geochemistry of Radiogenic Isotopes (BSc, MSc, 20-30 students) 4 h/week
  • Meteorites and evolution of the terrestrial planets (MSc, 5-10 students) 3 h/week
  • Seminar & Field course geochemistry topics (BSc/MSc 8-14 students) 3 h/week

Alternating topics:

 - Volcanology & magmatic processes (Eifel/Siebengebirge)

 - Lower crust and upper mantle (Northern Italy)

 - Ligurian ophiolites (Northern Italy)

  • Fundamentals of Geochemistry (BSc, about 70-90 students) 4 h/week
  • Presentation Seminar (“Allgemeine Berufsvorbereitung” BSc, 20 students) 2008, 2010, 2012, 1-2 h/week
  • The Earth 3 (Geochemistry) and 4 (Ore Deposits) BSc, 2004/2005
  • Seminar Advances in Geochemistry (MSc, Doct.), 2 h/week, every semester
  • Geochemistry, Hydrogeology & Mineralogy Joint Seminar (MSc, Doct.)

1998-2003 at the University of Maryland, College Park:

  • GEOL120 “Environmental Geology” (120 students), GEOL445 "Principles of Geochemistry" (10-20 students)
  • Topical lectures and seminars GEOL489H BSc Honors Course
  • Teaching assistant: GEOL212 "Planetary Geology", HONR279W "The Solar System", GEOL443 "Petrology of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks".

Students and Graduate Advising

FU Berlin:

Completed theses:

Doctoral: Daniel Lieger (2011, with Museum f. Naturkunde), Mario Fischer-Gödde (2010, now at U. Münster), David van Acken (2009, now at U. Bonn), Maja Wegmann (2006, now at RWEDEA).

M.Sc.: Clemens Ullmann (now U. Copenhagen), Marc Weynell, Andreas Ziegler (Chemistry); Steffen Herzlieb

B.Sc.: Caroline Meier, Marc Weynell, Corinna Wutzke, Kai Neldner, Steffen Herzlieb, Sebastian Kommescher, Manuel Quiring, Danny Geißler


Doctoral students: Timo Gawronski, Zaicong Wang (CSC program), Simon Hohl, Yogita Kadlag, Chunhui Li (CSC program)

M.Sc. students: Sebastian Kommescher

B.Sc. students: Michel Hoeltke, Franziska Schubring, Tanja Giebner

Univ. of Maryland (1997-2004):

Instruction of undergraduate and graduate students in rock processing, clean lab and mass

spectrometry procedures (Allison Gale, Amitava Gangopadhyay, Amy Gelinas, Paul Hackley,

Michael Hodgson, David Cook, Eric Sampson, Gary Solar, Jinmei Tian).

Analytical and Methodical Expertise

Main focus: analytical methods and sample preparation in plasma source and thermal ionization mass spectrometry.

At Max Planck-Institut für Chemie, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, University of Maryland, and Astromaterials Research Group, Johnson Space Center, Houston: Positive and negative thermal ionization mass spectrometry (MAT 261, VG 354, Sector 54, NBS 6, 9, 12, 15” instruments), single and multi collector plasma mass spectrometry (Nu Plasma, Element 2), and the relevant element separation techniques such as ion exchange and solvent extraction (Rb-Sr, 147Sm-143Nd, U-Th-Pb, Re-Os, Pt-Os, Ru, Mo and W isotope systems, isotope dilution techniques for platinum group elements, Ba, K, Cs)

Since 2005 our group at FUB has set up the following techniques [1] 142Nd measurements in terrestrial rocks and in chondrites with the FUB TRITON TIMS, Sm isotopes in chondrites (Drs. K. Rankenburg and K. Hammerschmidt), [2] Li and Mg separation for stable isotope studies, Li isotope measurements on the Element XR single-collector ICP-MS at FUB, Mg isotope measurements in collaboration with R. Romer at GFZ-Potsdam (Dr. U. Wiechert), [3] Rb-Sr microgeochronology of drilled mica grains (K. Hammerschmidt), [4] Ba and Sr isotopic variation in primitive meteorites (Dr. F. Wombacher, K. Hammerschmidt). [5] determination of abundances of monoisotopic Rh and Au, other PGE and 187Os/188Os in the same sample aliquot at low and high abundances in crustal and mantle materials, meteorites and lunar rocks (Dr. M. Fischer-Gödde), [6] determination of abundances of chalcophile elements (S, Se, Te) in crustal and mantle materials and in meteorites by isotope dilution (A. Ziegler, F. Wombacher, T. Gawronski, Z. Wang), [7] Re-Os geochronology of black shales and sulfides from ore deposits (B. Zhu, T. Gawronski), [8] REE and other trace elements in mantle rocks and marine carbonates (F. Wombacher, M. Fischer-Gödde, W. Bäro, S. Hohl), [9] Major cation composition of dissolved and suspended load in river water by ICP-MS (C. Ullmann), [10] Multi element techniques to determine the composition of metal, sulphides and phosphides from iron meteorites by ICP-MS (C. Meyer, F. Wombacher).

Field Experience

Europe (Bohemian Massif, Black Forest, Vosges, Münchberg Gneiss Massif, Swiss and Italian Alps, central Spain)

the U.S. (Maine and New Mexico) and China (Yangtze Platform).

Past and Present external Collaborators

A. Brandon (U. Houston), J. Brenan (U. Toronto), G. Brey (U. Frankfurt), M. Brown (UMD), R.

Carlson (DTM/CIW, Postdoc advisor), C. Dalpe (RCMP, Ottawa), M. Dorais (Brigham Young

U.), B. Ellwood (LSU), G. Franz (TU Berlin), D. Frost (BGI Bayreuth), Q. Guo (Beijing); J.

Grossman (USGS, Reston), S. Gao (Wuhan, China), K. Haase (U. Erlangen), M. Horan

(DTM/CIW), S. Jiang (Nanjing), K. P. Jochum (MPI Mainz), E. Krogstad (Copenhagen), J. P.

Lorand (MNH, Paris), G. MacPherson (Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC), W.

McDonough (UMD), T. Meisel (Leoben), J. Morgan (retired), R. Romer (GFZ), R. Rudnick

(UMD), S. Shirey (DTM/CIW), P. Tomascak (SUNY Oswego), Riccardo Tribuzio (U. Pavia), T.

Waight (Copenhagen), R. Walker (UMD, Postdoc advisor), T. Wenzel (U. Tübingen), R. Wiebe

(Franklin & Marshall College).


Wang, Z., Becker, H. Abundances of sulphur, selenium, tellurium, rhenium and platinum group elements in eighteen reference materials by isotope dilution sector-field ICP-MS and negative TIMS. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, in press.

Wang, Z., Becker, H. (2013) Ratios of S, Se and Te in the silicate Earth require a volatile-rich late       veneer. Nature, 499, 328-332.

Wang, Z., Becker, H., Gawronski, T. (2013) Partial re-equilibration of highly siderophile elements and the chalcogens in the mantle: A case study on the Baldissero and Balmuccia peridotite massifs (Ivrea Zone, Italian Alps). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 108, 21–44.

Zhu, B., Becker, H., Jiang, S.-Y., Pi, D.-H., Fischer-Gödde, M., Yang, J.-H. (2013) Re-Os geochronology of black shales from the Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Formation, Yangtze platform, South China. Precambrian Research, 225, 67-76.

Mann, U., Frost, D. J., Rubie, D. C., Becker, H., Audetat, A. (2012) Partitioning of Ru, Rh, Pd, Re, Ir and Pt between liquid metal and silicate at high pressures and high temperatures - Implications for the origin of highly siderophile element concentrations in the Earth’s mantle. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 84, 593-613.

Gleissner, P., Drüppel, K., Becker, H. (2012) Osmium isotopes and highly siderophile element fractionation in the massif-type anorthosites of the Mesoproterozoic Kunene Intrusive Complex, NW Namibia. Chemical Geology, 302-303, 33-47.

Fischer-Gödde, M., Becker, H. (2012) Osmium isotope and highly siderophile element constraints on ages and nature of meteoritic components in ancient lunar impact rocks. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 77, 135-156.

Fischer-Gödde, M., Becker, H., Wombacher, F. (2011) Rhodium, gold and other highly siderophile elements in orogenic peridotites and peridotite xenoliths. Chemical Geology 280, 365-383.

Fischer-Gödde, M., Becker, H., Wombacher, F. (2010) Rhodium, gold and other highly siderophile element abundances in chondritic meteorites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74, 356-379.

van Acken, D., Becker, H., Hammerschmidt, K. Walker, R. J., Wombacher, F. (2010) Highly siderophile elements and Sr-Nd isotopes in refertilized mantle peridotites - a case study from the Totalp ultramafic body, Swiss Alps. Chemical Geology 276, 257-268.

van Acken, D., Becker, H., Walker, R. J., McDonough, W. F., Wombacher, F., Ash, R. D., Piccoli, P. M. (2010) Formation of pyroxenite layers in the Totalp ultramafic massif (Swiss Alps) – insights from highly siderophile elements and Os isotopes. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74, 2674–2691.

van Acken, D., Becker, H., Walker, R. J. (2008) Refertilization of Jurassic oceanic peridotites from the Tethys Ocean – implications for the Re-Os systematics of the upper mantle. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 268, 171-181.

Becker, H., Horan, M. F., Walker, R. J., Lorand, J.-P., Gao, S., Rudnick, R.L. (2006) Highly siderophile element composition of the Earth’s primitive upper mantle: Constraints from new data on peridotite massifs and xenoliths. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 70, 4528-4550.

Tomascak, P. B., Brown, M., Solar, G. S., Becker, H., Centorbi, T. L., and Tian, J. (2005) Geochemistry of Acadian Granites: Source Contributions to Magmatism Near the Laurentian Border, New Hampshire and Western Maine, USA. Lithos 80, 75-99.

Becker, H., Carlson, R. W. and Shirey, S. B. (2004) Slab-derived osmium and isotopic disequilibrium in garnet pyroxenites from a Paleozoic convergent plate margin (lower Austria. Chemical Geology 208, 141-156.

McDaniel, D. K., Walker, R. J., Hemming, S. R., Horan, M. F., Becker, H., and Grauch, R. I. (2004) S     Sources of Osmium to the Modern Oceans: New Evidence from the 190Pt-186Os System. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 68, 1243-1252.

Becker, H. and Walker, R. J. (2003) Efficient mixing of the solar nebula from uniform Mo isotopic composition of meteorites. Nature 425, 152-155.

Becker, H., and Walker, R. J. (2003) In search of extant Tc in the early solar system: 98Ru and 99Ru abundances in iron meteorites and chondrites. Chemical Geology 196, 43-56.

Brandon, A. D., Walker, R. J., Puchtel, I., Becker, H., Humayun, M., and Revillon, S. (2003) 186Os-187Os Systematics of Gorgona Island Komatiites: Implications for Early Growth of the Inner Core. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 206, 411-426.

Walker, R. J., Horan, M. F., Morgan, J. W., Becker, H. and Grossman, J. N. (2002) Comparative 187Re-187Os systematics of chondrites: implications regarding early solar system processes. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 66, 4187-4201.

Becker, H., Dalpe, C. and Walker, R. J. (2002) High-precision Ru isotopic measurements by multi collector ICP-MS. The Analyst 127, 775-780.

Dorais, M. J., Wintsch, R. P., and Becker, H. (2001) The Massabesic gneiss complex, New Hampshire: A study of a portion of the Avalon terrane. American Journal of Science 301, 657-682.

Becker, H., Walker, R. J., MacPherson, G. J., Morgan, J. W. and Grossman, J. N. (2001) Rhenium-osmium systematics of calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions in carbonaceous chondrites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 65, 3379-3390.

Becker, H., Shirey, S. B., and Carlson, R. W. (2001) Effects of melt percolation on the Re-Os systematics of peridotites from a Paleozoic convergent plate margin. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 188, 107-121.

Becker, H. (2000) Re-Os fractionation in eclogites and blueschists and the implications for recycling of oceanic crust into the mantle. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 177, 287-300.

Becker, H., Jochum, K. P. and Carlson, R. W. (2000) Trace element fractionation during the dehydration of eclogites from high-pressure terranes and the implications for element fluxes in subduction zones. Chemical Geology , 163, 65-99.

Becker, H., Jochum, K. P. and Carlson, R. W. (1999) Constraints from high-pressure veins in eclogites on the composition of hydrous fluids in subduction zones. Chemical Geology 160, 291-308.

Brandon, A. D., Becker, H., Carlson, R. W., and Shirey, S. B. (1999) Isotopic constraints on  time scales and mechanisms of slab material transport in the mantle wedge: Evidence from  the Simcoe mantle xenoliths, Washington, USA. Chemical Geology , 160, 387-408. Draper, D. S., Brandon, A. D., Becker, H. (1999) Interactions between slab and sub-arc  mantle: Dehydration, melting and element transport in subduction zones. Chemical Geology 160, 251-253.

Becker, H., Wenzel, T. and Volker, F. (1999) Geochemistry of Glimmerite Veins in Peridotites from Lower Austria - Implications for the Origin of K-rich Magmas in Collision Zones, Journal of Petrology  40, 315-338.

Becker, H. (1997) Petrological constraints on the cooling history of high-temperature garnet peridotite massifs in lower Austria, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 128, 272-286.

Becker, H. (1997) Sm-Nd garnet ages and cooling history of high-temperature garnet peridotites and high-pressure granulites from lower Austria, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 127, 224-236.

Becker, H. (1996) Geochemistry of garnet peridotite massifs from lower Austria and the composition of deep lithosphere beneath a Paleozoic convergent plate margin, Chemical Geology 134, 49-65.

Becker, H. (1996) Crustal trace element and isotope signatures in garnet pyroxenites and megacrysts from garnet peridotite massifs from lower Austria, Journal of Petrology 37, 785810.

Becker, H. (1993) Garnet peridotite and eclogite Sm-Nd mineral ages from the Lepontine dome (Swiss Alps): new evidence for Eocene high-pressure metamorphism in the central Alps, Geology 21, 599-602.

Becker, H. and Altherr, R. (1992) Evidence from ultra-high-pressure marbles for recycling of sediments into the mantle. Nature 358, 745-748.


Published Books

One of many co-authors of “Dynamische Erde – Zukunftsaufgaben der Geowissenschaften” G. Wefer (Ed.) Strategieschrift der Geokommission der DFG, 367 pp.

Unpublished Thesis Work

Becker, H. (1994), Cooling history and Geochemistry of High-temperature Garnet Peridotite Complexes From Lower Austria (Southern Bohemian Massif). Unpublished doctoral thesis, Universität Mainz, 221 pp.

Becker, H. (1990), P-T-Geschichte von Granuliten, Granat-Pyroxeniten und Mantelperidotiten der Gföhler Einheit im Moldanubikum des Niederösterreichischen Waldviertels. Unpublished Diplomarbeit, Universität Karlsruhe, 273 pp.