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Trond H. Torsvik

Trond H. Torsvik
Trond H. Torsvik

The 2016 Arthur Holmes Medal & Honorary Membership is awarded to Trond H. Torsvik for outstanding contributions in the application of palaeomagnetism to plate tectonic reconstructions, which have fundamentally changed our view of the solid Earth by linking Earth’s deep interior to the geological record.

Trond Torsvik is one of the leading authorities in deciphering palaeogeography, and has made fundamental advances in determining the relative and absolute motion of plates. His research involves linking palaeontology with palaeomagnetism to constrain pre-Mesozoic geography. He pioneered reconstructions critical for understanding processes leading to the formation and break-up of Pangea and the earlier Precambrian Rodinia supercontinent. He has shown that the seismic signal of ancient subducted slabs in the mantle places powerful constraints on plate motions. Torsvik and colleagues have demonstrated that, since 200 Ma, the initial eruption sites of large igneous provinces correlate with the edges of the large low-shear velocity provinces at the core–mantle boundary. The first to quantitatively demonstrate the correlation, Torsvik recognised the broad implications and significance of plume generation zones for mantle convection, and recently expanded the correlations to the eruption sites of diamond-bearing kimberlites. With the plume-generation-zone hypothesis implying long-term stability of these large structures in the deep mantle, Torsvik recognised a rare opportunity to constrain palaeo-longitude for times before 200 Ma, an enormously significant result for palaeogeography. For these reasons, he is a deserving recipient of the 2016 EGU Arthur Holmes Medal & Honorary Membership.