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Friedrich Heller

Friedrich Heller
Friedrich Heller

The 2007 Louis Néel Medal is awarded to Friedrich Heller for his seminal contributions to environmental rock magnetism, in particular the interpretation of magnetic signatures recorded by loess and how they relate to Pleistocene climate shifts.

In 1982, Friedrich Heller and the outstanding Chinese scholar, Dr. Tungsheng Liu, published a classic paper in Nature that established the first chronology of the Chinese loess-paleosol deposits using magnetostratigraphy. This was quickly followed by further classic work, with Dr. George Kukla and others, that showed a clear correlation between magnetic susceptibility and climate, which allowed a correlation of the loess deposits with marine sediments. As the complexity of the magnetic signature of these sequences became increasingly understood, Friedrich Heller continued to lead research teams with broad-ranging expertise that came to grips with the details of the relationship between magnetism, climate and soil-forming processes. The 1995 review paper in Reviews of Geophysics by Heller and Evans is now a classic that has drawn all of this important work together and that serves as a springboard for ongoing work. Friedrich Heller has also done important work on geomagnetic field intensity and its relationship with cosmogenic radionuclide production, as well as on the use of magnetic properties for assessing industrial pollution in soils.