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Bjørn G. Andersen, Norwegian geologist, died he was 87.

Bjørn Grothaug Andersen was a Norwegian professor of glaciology and Quaternary geology who made foundational contributions to glacial geology and the understanding of climate change died he was 87..

(born 23 March 1924 in Stavanger, Norway  – deceased 12 January 2012 in Asker, Norway)

Life and career

Andersen was the son of Knut Severin Andersen b. Grothaug (1882–1948), from Hornindal in Nordfjord, who was a gardener in Stavanger, and Elise Andersen b. Rafoss (1890–1987) from Stavanger (Kvinesdal). In 1951 he married the physiotherapist Astrid E. Kruse Andersen (born 1926). After a Research Fellowship at Yale University under Richard Foster Flint in 1954–1956, Andersen was a professor of Quaternary geology at the University of Oslo from 1956 to 1970, then at the University of Bergen
from 1970 to 1982. Then he returned to the University of Oslo and
worked there for 9 years until retirement. He headed the geological
institutes both in Oslo and Bergen. He was responsible for the
geological education of more than 30 year groups of students, and he
continued to participate in academic society until autumn 2011, when he
had developed cancer and was in poor health. Andersen was a sought after
lecturer and was acclaimed by his students, some of whom he kept in
contact with until his death in January 2012.

Contributions to Quaternary geology

At the University of Bergen, Andersen played a central role in
building up the study of Quaternary geology. His students and the
university benefited from his international contacts and he conducted
filed trips to the Antarctic, South America and New Zealand. Most of all his contribution was to reveal the foundation of Scandinavian landscapes.
Andersen’s first expedition to the South Pole came in a period of small Norwegian interest in the Antarctic after the great achievements of Roald Amundsen
in 1911-1912. Andersen was the second Norwegian to visit the Pole after
the Amundsen expedition. An American expedition which reached the Pole a
week before him honored his achievements by naming a mountain
escarpment Andersen Escarpment after him.[1]
During his Master’s fieldwork in Ryfylke with Olaf Holtedahl as advisor, Andersen broke new ground both methodologically and theoretically.[2][3] He developed a method for stereoscopic analysis of aerial photos in the assessment of moraines. During the 1950s and 1960s he assessed the moraines in most of Norway, from Lindesnes to Troms. The assessment of the moraines of Jæren and the rest of the south coast of Norway was the basis of his PhD thesis, defended in 1960.
Andersen discovered an until then unknown area of Rogaland containing rock of the CambrianSilurian age on a much lower level than the surrounding bedrock. His collected fossiles from this area were deposited in the Paleontologic Museum at Tøyen in Oslo. In this material Professor Gunnar Henningsmoen discovered an until then unknown trilobite species, which was given the name (Ptychparia anderseni) for Andersen. During this fieldwork in the Lysefjord area, Andersen developed a method for determination of climatic conditions from the reconstruction of Ice Age glaciers which is still used by geologists and geographers.
Andersen’s first paper [3] is one of the most basic papers in Norwegian glacial geology, even though it was published before C-14 dating was available.[2] The Younger Dryas glacier of the Lysefjord was reconstructed in three dimensions and compared with the glaciers in Greenland
today. Further, the highest side moraines were used to determine the
equilibrium line of the paleo-glaciers and thus its lowering by
comparison with today’s glaciers. In this way he was able to estimate
the decrease of summer temperature with surprising accuracy. These
decreased temperatures were in compliance with the findings of botanist Knut Fægri at the Younger Dryas glacier of Jæren.

After retirement

Andersen was a dedicated glaciologist all of his adult life. He accompanied a party of scientists doing field studies in Chile in 1991–99, and in New Zealand in 2000–08, led by the American Quaternary geologist Professor George Denton of the University of Maine. These studies led to a series of publications, among them papers in the Nature and Science.[4][5][6][7] This was in addition to two books on glacial geology, one about the Ice Age in Norway: Istider i Norge, 2000,[8] and an international textbook on the Ice Age World in 1997.[9]
In the summer of 2011 Andersen presented the results of the New Zealand research at a geological conference in Switzerland.
There he also discussed the continuation of his Norwegian fieldwork,
and in September–October joined a joint Norwegian-US exploratory
expedition to Lysefjord led by Jan Mangerud
and George Denton which investigated the application of a new dating
method to the moraines he charted in the 1950s for his Master’s.[2]

Selected publications

Scientific publications

  • B. G. Andersen, 1954: “Randmorener i Sørvest-Norge”. Norwegian Journal of Geography 14: 273–342 (Norwegian).
  • B. G. Andersen, 1960: Sørlandet i sen- og postglacial tid. Norges geologiske undersøkelse 210. OCLC 486037056 (Norwegian).
  • B. G. Andersen, 1968: Glacial geology of western Troms, North Norway. Norges geologiske undersøkelse 256. OCLC 16446
  • B. G. Andersen, 1975: Glacial geology of northern Nordland, North Norway. Norges geologiske undersøkelse 320. OCLC 247679608
  • B. G. Andersen, 1992: “Jens Esmark—a pioneer in glacial geology”. Boreas 21: 97–102.
  • B. G. Andersen, F. Bøen, R. Nydal, A. Rasmussen, & P. N.
    Vallevik, 1981: “Radiocarbon dates of marginal moraines in Nordland,
    North Norway”. Geografiska Annaler 63A: 155–60.
  • B. G. Andersen, F. Bøen, A. Rasmussen, K. Rokoengen, & P. N.
    Vallevik, 1982: “The Tjøtta glacial event in southern Nordland, North
    Norway”. Norsk Geologisk Tidsskrift 62: 39–49.
  • B. G. Andersen, & J. Mangerud, 1990: “The last interglacial–glacial cycle in Fennoscandia”. Quaternary International 3–4: 21–29.
  • B. G. Andersen, J. Mangerud, R. Sørensen, A. Reite, H. Sveian, M. Thorensen, & B. Bergström, 1995: “Younger Dryas Ice-Marginal Deposits in Norway”. Quaternary International 28: 147–69.
  • B. G. Andersen, G. H. Denton, C. J. Heusser, T. V. Lowell, P. I.
    Moreno, A. Hauser, L. E. Heusser, C. Schluchter, & D. R. Marchants,
    1995: “Climate, vegetation and glacier fluctuations in Chile, between
    40°30´ and 42°30´S latitude—A short review of preliminary results”. Quaternary International 28: 199–201.
  • B. G. Andersen, G. H. Denton, & T. V. Lowell, 1999: “Glacial
    geomorphological maps of Llanquihue drift in the area of the southern
    Chilean Lake District”. Geografiska Annaler 81A: 155–66, with map portfolio including 9 plates drawn by B. G. Andersen.
  • D. J. A. Barrell, B. G. Andersen, & G. H. Denton, 2011: Glacial geomorphology of the central South Island, New Zealand. GNS Science monograph 27. ISBN 9780478197990 including 5 large maps drawn by Andersen, his last maps.
  • G. H. Denton, J. G. Bockheim, S. C. Wilson, J. E. Leide, & B. G.
    Andersen, 1989: “Late Quaternary ice-surface fluctuations of Beardmore
    Glacier, Transantarctic Mountains”. Quaternary Research 31: 183–209.
  • G. H. Denton, T. V. Lowell, C. J. Heusser, P. I. Moreno, B. G.
    Andersen, L. E. Heusser, C. Schlüchter, & D. R. Marchant, 1999:
    “Interhemispheric linkage of paleoclimate during the last glaciation”. Geografiska Annaler 81A: 107–53.
  • C. J. Heusser, G H. Denton, A. Hauser, B. G. Andersen, & T. V.
    Lowell, 1996: “Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides Lam.) in Southern Chile
    as an Index of Paleoenvironment during Early Deglaciation”. Arctic and Alpine Research 28 (2): 148–55.
  • C. J. Heusser, T. V. Lowell, L. E. Heusser, A. Hauser, B. G.
    Andersen, & G. H. Denton, 1998: “Vegetation dynamics and
    paleoclimate during late Llanquihue glaciation in southern Chile”. Bamberger Geographische Schriften 15: 211–26.
  • O. Holtedahl & B. G. Andersen, 1960: “Glacial map of Norway” in: O. Holtedahl et al., (1960). Geology of Norway. Norges geologiske undersøkelse 208. OCLC 1019047
  • M. R. Kaplan, J. M. Schaefer, G. H. Denton, D. J. A. Barrell, T. J.
    H. Chinn, A. E. Putnam, B. G. Andersen, R. C. Finkel, R. Schwartz, &
    A. M. Doughty, 2010: “Glacier retreat in New Zealand during the Younger Dryas stadial”. Nature 467: 194–97.
  • F. Presser, B. G. Andersen, G. H. Denton, & C. Schlüchter, 2005:
    “Luminescence chronology of Late Pleistocene glacial deposits of North
    Westland, New Zealand”. Quaternary Science Reviews 24: 2207–27.
  • A. E. Putnam, G. H. Denton, J. M. Schaefer, D. J. A. Barrell, B. G.
    Andersen, R. C. Finkel, R. Schwartz, A. M. Doughty, & M. R. Kaplan,
    2010: “Glacier advance in southern middle-latitudes during the Antarctic
    Cold Reversal”. Nature Geoscience 2010 (3): 700–04.
  • J. M. Schaefer, G. H. Denton, D. J. Barrell, S. Ivy-Ochs, P. W.
    Kubik, B. G. Andersen, F. M. Phillips, T. V. Lowell, & C.
    Schlüchter, 2006: “Near-synchronous interhemispheric termination of the
    last glacial maximum in mid-latitudes”. Science 312: 1510–13.
  • J. M. Schaefer, G. H. Denton, M. Kaplan, A. Putnam, R. C. Finkel, D.
    J. A. Barrell, B. G. Andersen, R. Schwartz, A. Mackintosh, T. Chinn,
    & C. Schlüchter, 2009: “High-Frequency Holocene Glacier
    Fluctuations, New Zealand Differ from the Northern Signature” Science 324: 622–25.


  • Bjørn G. Andersen, 2000: Istider i Norge: landskap formet av istidenes breer. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 9788200451341 (Norwegian)
  • Bjørn G. Andersen and Harold W. Borns Jr., 1997: The
    Ice Age World: an introduction to quaternary history and research with
    emphasis on North America and Northern Europe during the last 2.5
    million years
    . Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. ISBN 9788200218104
  • B. G. Andersen and L.-K. Königsson (eds.), 1991: Late Quaternary Stratigraphy in the Nordic Countries 150,000-15,000 B.P.: the XXIV Uppsala Symposium in Quaternary Geology. Striae 34. Uppsala : Societas Upsaliensis Pro Geologia Quaternaria. ISBN 9789173880671

To see more of who died in 2011 click here


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