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Fellows Directory

Henry Elderfield

Henry Elderfield

Professor Henry Elderfield FRS


Elected: 2001


Henry ‘Harry’ Elderfield was an earth scientist who was key in the establishment of modern oceanic trace metal chemistry. Harry studied tiny amounts of materials as markers for the chemistry of ancient and modern oceans. He aimed to understand how and why the chemistry of the oceans, atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature have changed over time.

One of his most important contributions was the establishment of new tools for analysing seawater through studying the shells of tiny sea fossils. He also compiled detailed information on the transport of seawater through the oceanic crust at the side of ocean ridges.

Henry was the Director of  Research in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He published several hundred papers and won numerous awards, including the Urey Medal of the European Association of Geochemistry in 2007 and the V. M. Goldschmidt Award in 2013.

Professor Henry 'Harry' Elderfield FRS died on 19 April 2016.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Geochemistry, Chemical oceanography


Isotopes, foraminifera ocean history

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