The 2016 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal is awarded to Lucas Lourens in recognition of his outstanding contributions to cyclostratigraphy and astronomical tuning of the geologic timescale, and their application to studying Earth’s climate history.
Lucas Lourens has contributed significantly to the advancement of cyclostratigraphic concepts, which have revolutionised the field of stratigraphy over the last decades with the application of astronomical solutions for the calibration of the sedimentary record. He has played a crucial role in the development and extension of the Astronomical Time Scale (ATS) into the Pliocene and, finally, into the Palaeogene. His seminal 1996 paper resulted in an ATS for the Pliocene–Pleistocene that still forms the basis of the standard Geologic Time Scale (GTS2012) for this time interval. In addition, his pioneering contributions on the influence of the very long period orbital cycles on time scales of tens of millions of years and of the effects of tidal dissipation and dynamical ellipticity were critical to pave the way for current thinking about such critical issues. He further contributed to the understanding of – and the astronomical pacing of – Eocene hyperthermals, which may act as a partial analogue for global warming, and successfully and timely integrated his research with climate modelling efforts, in collaboration with the KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute) and the IMAU (Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht). Lourens has been an active member of the international ocean drilling community, serving as a representative of the Netherlands. He has participated in international research drilling expeditions to the Walvis Ridge (Ocean Drilling Program Leg 208) and Gulf of Cadiz (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 339). His research directed at the greenhouse world of 55 million years ago has taken a central role in his outreach activities, such as the grand battle between universities in the context of the Nationale Academische Jaarprijs 2006–2007 organised by the newspaper NRC Handelsblad. During his 20-year career, he has directed the research of 20 doctoral students. Together, with his co-authors, he has produced a prolific publication record of approximately 100 papers published in international (referred) journals that have been cited more than 5700 times, making him one of the most frequently cited stratigraphers actively conducting research today. For all of these reasons, Lourens is a worthy recipient of the 2016 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal.