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Wolfgang Schlager

Wolfgang Schlager
Wolfgang Schlager

The 2015 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal is awarded to Wolfgang Schlager in recognition of his contributions to the study of marine carbonates and to sequence stratigraphy, and for his success at merging aspects of fundamental and applied sedimentology.

Wolfgang Schlager has been a full professor and chair for marine geology and sedimentology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands since 1985. He is a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina and the Academia Europea. He has received a number of distinguished medals, including the Gustav-Steinmann Award of the Geologische Vereinigung (Germany) in 2002, the Twenhofel Medal, the highest award given by the Society of Sedimentary Geology, in 2005, and the Eduard-Suess Award of the Austrian Geological Society in 2008.

Students and colleagues working with Schlager are impressed by his holistic and quantitative approach, combined with the careful eye of the field geologist. One of the main reasons many of his colleagues believe him to be one of the most influential researchers in the field of carbonate sedimentology is that his work was never driven by models, but he has always believed in well-documented information obtained directly from the sedimentary record. His science has had a major impact in the field, and some of his concepts, as summarised in his work, belong to the most frequently cited papers in sedimentary geology.

One prominent example of his work that has triggered community-wide discussion is referred to as ‘the paradox’ (of drowned platforms), outlined in a classic paper published in 1981. Herein, Schlager compiled tropical carbonate sedimentation rates of reefs and carbonate platforms and compared these rates against known basement subsidence rates or rates of relative sea-level change. The demonstrated outcome is that carbonate factories far outperform all forms of sea-level change or basement subsidence, except for the ultra-fast sea-level rise at the end of the last glaciation events. These contradictory lines of evidence, as formulated by Schlager, are considered to be a major paradox in carbonate sedimentology today.

With respect to his impact on carbonate sequence stratigraphy, Schlager is one of the architects of the presently used precise and specific terminology of ‘carbonate’ sequence stratigraphy, which was originally developed for seismic interpretations of clastic systems. He is an influential scientist and one of the most frequently cited sedimentary geologists.

For all of these reasons, Wolfgang Schlager is a worthy recipient of the 2015 EGU Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal.

PDF document (2.2 MB) of the Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal Lecture given at the EGU General Assembly 2015.