The 2004 Milutin Milankovic Medal is awarded to Frederik Hilgen for his original and pioneering contributions to the intercalibration of the radioisotopic and astronomical time scales up to the Miocene.
Frederik J. Hilgen completed his PhD thesis on the astronomical time scale for the Mediterranean Plio-Pleistocene at the University of Utrecht in 1991. He was a post-doctoral fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently has a tenure position at the Faculty of Earth Sciences in Utrecht. He is Secretary of the Subcommission on Neogene Stratigraphy and Member of the International Subcommission on Stratigraphic Classification. His current research interest focusses on the extension of the astronomical time scale into the Miocene and into the continental realm, on (sub-)Milankovich climate forcing, including climate modelling, as recorded in the sedimentary record and on the intercalibration of radioisotopic and astronomical dating methods.
His astronomical time scale for the Mediterranean Plio-Pleistocene based on tuning cyclic sedimentary cycles to astronomical target curves produced substantially older ages (by up to 12%) for magnetic reversal boundaries than in then existing polarity time scales. The new time scale was soon adopted however and now underlies the standard geological time scale for the youngest time interval of Earth’s history. His research and that of his co-workers convincingly demonstrate that a single oscillatory climate system which operates independent from glacial cyclicity is responsible for sedimentary cycle formation in the Mediterranean over at least the last 13.5 million years, both in the marine as well as in the continental realm. The detailed comparison between the cyclic stratigraphic record and astronomical target curves allowed to discriminate the most accurate astronomical solution from a geological point of view while the much increased resolution in time-stratigraphic correlations proved indispensable in demonstrating cause and effect relationships in geological studies.