Skip to main content

EGU news Additional guidance for nominations for the EGU’s Stephan Mueller and Marie Tharp medals

EGU logo

European Geosciences Union

Additional guidance for nominations for the EGU’s Stephan Mueller and Marie Tharp medals

19 March 2021

In 2002, when EGU was established following the merger of the European Geophysical Society (EGS) with the European Union of Geosciences, the new Union inherited a portfolio of honours from the two founding societies. One of these is the Stephan Mueller Medal, which was established in 1998 to recognise the achievements of this accomplished scientist who died shortly after his retirement from the Swiss Seismological Service at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and the University of Zürich.

Mueller was a seismologist whose research largely focused on better understanding Earth’s lithosphere, and the evolution, structure, and dynamics of the Mediterranean and Alpine region. He was a highly respected scientist who was greatly admired by his former students and colleagues.

Because Mueller’s research was very interdisciplinary and concentrated on Earth’s lithosphere, the award established in his name honours outstanding contributions to the discovery of the structure of the lithosphere and interdisciplinary approaches to the understanding of plate tectonics. However, many members of EGU’s Tectonics and Structural Geology (TS) Division recently expressed their desire to rename the medal inherited from the EGS after a geologist whose research encompasses the broader tectonics field rather than a seismologist. A further motivation was to honour a female scientist as a role model.

In response to these requests, the EGU Council decided to create an additional medal that recognises a wider range of scientific contributions to this active community, whilst preserving the legacy of the original medal inherited by the TS Division. A majority of the division members chose to name the medal after Marie Tharp in honour of the American geologist’s and cartographer’s substantial contributions to mapping Earth’s ocean floors.

This research led to Tharp’s discovery of the axial valleys along the mid-ocean ridges and their significance as extensional tectonic structures. These findings, together with her accurate mapping of fracture zones, were fundamental steps towards the formulation of the theory of plate tectonics. EGU’s new Marie Tharp Medal will therefore be given in recognition of a scientist’s outstanding contributions to the discovery of the structure of the ocean floors and plate tectonic processes.

Beginning this year, EGU members are able to nominate a scientist they believe would be a worthy recipient of either award; it’s up to the nominator to decide which medal they feel best recognises their nominee’s scientific contributions. The TS Division’s medal committee will simultaneously consider all complete nominations for both honours. They will select the single most deserving recipient, regardless of which medal they were nominated for, based only on the scientific excellence of the candidate and following the well-established best practices for EGU awards and medals.

Once the recipient has been approved by the EGU Council, which officially confers all EGU awards and medals, the EGU Awards Committee may consult with the recipient to ensure that the medal for which they were nominated best reflects their scientific contributions. The medal will then be bestowed on behalf of the division during the next EGU General Assembly.

Through the introduction of this new medal, EGU now has the ability to recognise a broader range of significant scientific contributions to the study of tectonics and structural geology that build upon, as well as honour, the legacies of two remarkable scientists.

Detailed information on the selection process and how to propose a candidate is available on the Awards & Medals section of the EGU website. Nominations for all 2022 medals and awards must be submitted via an online nomination form by 15 June 2021.


Thomas Blunier
EGU Awards Committee Chair

Claudio Rosenberg
EGU Division President, Tectonics and Structural Geology


Share this