Oral Histories in Meteoritics and Planetary Science—XIX: Klaus Keil


  • This article was corrected on September 24th 2012 after online publication. Skinner et al. was removed from the SelectedBibliography.

E-mail: derek.sears@nasa.gov


Abstract–  Klaus Keil (Fig. 1) grew up in Jena and became interested in meteorites as a student of Fritz Heide. His research for his Dr. rer. nat. became known to Hans Suess who––with some difficulty––arranged for him to move to La Jolla, via Mainz, 6 months before the borders of East Germany were closed. In La Jolla, Klaus became familiar with the electron microprobe, which has remained a central tool in his research and, with Kurt Fredriksson, he confirmed the existence of Urey and Craig’s chemical H and L chondrite groups, and added a third group, the LL chondrites. Klaus then moved to NASA Ames where he established a microprobe laboratory, published his definitive paper on enstatite chondrites, and led in the development of the Si(Li) detector and the EDS method of analysis. After 5 years at Ames, Klaus became director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico where he built up one of the leading meteorite research groups while working on a wide variety of projects, including chondrite groups, chondrules, differentiated meteorites, lunar samples, and Hawai’ian basalts. The basalt studies led to a love of Hawai’i and a move to the University of Hawai’i in 1990, where he has continued a wide variety of meteorite projects, notably the role of volcanism on asteroids. Klaus Keil has received honorary doctorates from Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, and the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. He was President of the Meteoritical Society in 1969–1970 and was awarded the Leonard Medal in 1988.

Figure 1.

Figure 1.

 Klaus Keil at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 2007.