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Olav Eldholm Professor Emeritus in memoriam

Professor Emeritus Olav Eldholm died on March 18, 80 years old.

Olav Eldholm. Photo: Private

Olav Eldholm. Photo: Private

After completing his cand.real. degree in geophysics at the University of Bergen in 1967, he began a research career that brought him to the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory at Columbia University in New York - an institution in the international research front in marine geophysics. Here Olav worked closely with top researchers such as Manik Talwani, John Ewing and others, and he experienced how the research field developed rapidly in light of plate tectonics being established as a scientific theory.

Olav brought this knowledge, lots of enthusiasm and an international research network back to Norway in 1974. He was employed at the University of Oslo and began to build up a strong research group in marine geophysics at the Department of Geology. The group studied the formation and development of Atlantic oceanic basins and surrounding continental margins in close collaboration with top international researchers. He also led large research projects with focus on the understanding of sedimentary basins on the Norwegian continental shelf in collaboration with the petroleum industry, which at that time developed rapidly in Norway.

A large number of students were educated with Olav as the supervisor, and many of them later got key positionsin the petroleum companies that explored the Norwegian shelf. He also motivated young researchers who pursued an academic career, and gave very useful advice and academic freedom to explore the academic network he had established.

Olav was a knowledgeable and strong leader with clear strategic visions. He was always well prepared and organized in the implementation of research strategies and projects. Based on his experience from Lamont, Olav strongly advocated establishing geophysical databases and developing tools for integrated analysis of geophysical data. He was the driving force behind the establishment of a modern IT infrastructure and internet at the Department of Geology during the 1980s.

In 2003, he returned to Bergen where he was head of department until 2009 when he retired. As an emeritus, he continued his research career until recently. Internationally, Eldholm is best known for his studies of volcanic rifted margins and large igneous provinces (LIPs). His work on LIPs, together with Mike Coffin, was ground-breaking and is still the basis for ongoing studies of such provinces.

He became heavily involved in the international scientific drilling program ODP (and later IODP) and led a drilling expedition on the Vøring Plateau in 1985. Last autumn, IODP returned to Norwegian waters and a number of holes were drilled on the outer margin offshore mid-Norway. One of the structures drilled in 2021, a 55 million year old volcano, was named Eldhø in recognition of Olav Eldholm's pioneering work in the Norwegian Sea.

Olav Eldhom received a number of awards both nationally and internationally. The most prestigious was in 2007 when he was appointed a Knight 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for his efforts in research and teaching.

We will miss our mentor and will work hard to carry on the legacy of Olav. 

Jan Inge Faleide, Sverre Planke,

Steinar Thor Gudlaugsson, Jakob Skogseid, Filippos Tsikalas, Asbjørn Breivik, Christian Berndt



Colleagues and friends at Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo


Published Mar. 24, 2022 9:29 AM - Last modified Mar. 25, 2022 5:39 PM