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A. M. Celâl Şengör

A. M. Celâl Şengör
A. M. Celâl Şengör

The 2018 Arthur Holmes Medal & Honorary Membership is awarded to A. M. Celâl Şengör in recognition of outstanding contributions to tectonics and palaeogeography, which have fundamentally changed our view on Earth’s history and the understanding of geological processes.

Celal Şengör is a world leader in tectonics and palaeogeography, and his most influential contributions to the Earth sciences include the understanding and evolution of the Palaeo/Neo-Tethys (where he discovered Cimmeria – a string of microcontinents that once rifted from the Gondwana margin – and later collided with Eurasia) and the Palaeozoic assembly of the Altaide orogenic belt in Eurasia. He pioneered the technique of using magmatic belts and associated rocks to show that this huge region constitutes newly formed continental crust, as consecutive subduction-derived arcs were swept up and incorporated into the Asian continent. This study had enormous implications for how continental crust has formed over geologic time and was one of the first to show that the continents grow by successive accretion of magmatic arcs, as is currently the conventional wisdom for formation of the continents.

Another novel contribution of his work is the ground-breaking regional analysis of vertebrate fossils that showed that the Permian closing of Palaeo-Tethys is correlated with, and may have played an important role in, the end-Permian extinction. This work established a strong link between global tectonics and the evolution of life on a major scale. His tectonic focus has also been expanded to other planets, including a recent mapping effort that identified thousands of ancient thrust faults on Mercury, documenting contraction of the planet during cooling in the early solar system.

Şengör is without doubt the recognised expert on European geology and the history of geological thought in Europe. He speaks, reads and writes in six different languages. His reading of original geologic works in these languages gives him access to geologic works not accessible to other Earth scientists, enabling his broad knowledge and sweeping interpretation of geologic systems worldwide, particularly in Europe and Central Asia. In his home country of Turkey, Şengör has contributed more to the geologic understanding of this exceedingly complex region than any other scientist. He has connected the orogenic systems from Europe to Asia in a manner that links the geological evolution of the western to eastern Tethys and forms the basis for our modern understanding of Turkey and adjacent regions. For these reasons, he is a deserving recipient of the 2018 EGU Arthur Holmes Medal and Honorary Membership.