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Catherine Kissel

Catherine Kissel
Catherine Kissel

The 2019 Petrus Peregrinus Medal is awarded to Catherine Kissel for outstanding contributions in palaeomagnetism, applied to understanding the Earth’s magnetic field, palaeoclimate, palaeoceanography and the geodynamic evolution of the Mediterranean margins.

Catherine Kissel’s accomplishments span a broad spectrum of applications of palaeomagnetism and rock magnetism to studies in tectonophysics, geomagnetic field behavior, palaeoceanography and palaeoclimate.

She provided a new interpretation of the evolution of the subduction zone in the Eastern Mediterranean, inspiring a generation of structural geologists. She showed that the curvature of the Aegean arc was a rapid and geologically recent process related to the geodynamic evolution of the Adriatic subduction zone.

She also investigated the evolution of Earth’s magnetic field during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. She contributed fundamental studies of magnetic excursions, especially on the Laschamp event, which has become a key marker in sediments and ice cores.

Kissel then undertook pioneering studies of magnetic properties of marine sediments to characterise variations in ocean currents and the climate of the past. She was able to reveal the provenance of sediments in the South China Sea and in the North Atlantic. She showed, from the analysis of the bulk magnetic properties of deep sea cores, that fast climatic changes are related to coeval changes in the deep-sea circulation. She also used the magnetic properties of sediments in the Bay of Bengal to describe how erosion in the Himalaya changed with time and to obtain insight about palaeo-monsoons.

She has led several large international and interdisciplinary collaborations focused on palaeo-environmental reconstructions, while at the same time advancing new applications of magnetic mineralogy and palaeomagnetism. These collaborations have spanned a dozen oceanographic cruises as project scientist and often chief scientist, over the last two decades.

Because of her wide range of key contributions in palaeomagnetism, geodynamics, paaleoceanography and palaeoclimate, Catherine Kissel is a superb recipient of the Petrus Peregrinus Medal.