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Joakim Donner

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Joakim Donner (L) and Richard West (R) on Brageneset, Nordaustlandet, Svalbard in Aug. 1955.

Joakim Donner
(link to Finnish national biography here ) has been a longstanding friend of Quaternary in Cambridge. After completing a doctoral thesis at the University of Helsinki under Matti Sauramo and Pentti Eskola, he spent the years 1953-1955 in Cambridge as a research student working with Harry Godwin in the Sub-department of Quaternary Research. Writing of that period, he notes: "In working on problems abroad the ideal situation is to be at another university for some time. The greatest benefit was, for me, the years at Cambridge in the beginning of the 1950s, technically still a student, but doing research in a surrounding with a number of helpful senior and junior members of the Quaternary community in Cambridge" (Donner 2002, p166). He is well known in Britain for his pioneering work with Richard West on the fabric of East Anglian tills.
From 1965-1990, Joakim Donner held the chair in Geology and Palaeontology at Helsinki . He has recently published an account of his researches and reminiscences on the last half century of Quaternary Geology, from which the abstract is copied below.


Donner, Joakim (2002). Summing-up: half a century of Quaternary geology. Annales Academiae Scientarum Fennicae, Geologica-Geographica 164 , 190pp.

In summing up the research in Quaternary geology during the second half of the twentieth century, the topics discussed are restricted to those dealt with by the author. The results obtained in the various studies are viewed against the general advances made subsequently by others. The interpretations in the older investigations are naturally more out of date than those in recent works; in many cases the author has himself later been able to reinvestigate and reinterpret conclusions made earlier.

The main part of the survey deals with studies of the Quaternary of Finland, starting with pollen stratigraphical problems, particularly of the Late Weichselian and the dating of deglaciation, but also of the Holocene history, followed by description of the identification and dating of land/sea-level changes, which eventually lead to the construction of a shore-line profile across Fennoscandia from Estonia over Finland and Sweden to the coast of Norway. Topics of archaeology, glacial geology and Quaternary stratigraphy are also discussed.

The investigations conducted in the British Isles include pollen analytical studies of the Late Glacial in Scotland, reconstructions of land/sea-level changes in Scotland and Ireland, as well as studies of East Anglia and the East Midlands using orientation measurements of stones in till.

Shorter, more limited, studies of the Quaternary stratigraphy of Long Island in the United States including a pollen diagram of the Gardiner's Clay of the Sangamon interglacial and pollen analytical studies of Cueca del Toll in Spain and Abri Pataud in France are described in separate chapters. Descriptions of investigations in the Arctic include studies of the geology of Bragenesat in Nordaustlandet, of the land/sea-level changes in west Greenland around Disko Bugt, as determined by radiocarbon dating of marine shells and of similar studies of Finnmark in North Norway. Some observations made in Alaska are also mentioned.

Localities used for dating marine shells in southeastern Australia are described, as well as sites along the coast of southern Africa used in studies of the stable isotope composition of recent marine shells. Finally, a description is given of studies in the western desert of Egypt of playas with evidence of an early Holocene humid phase. Some concluding remarks about the Quaternary studies in general are presented at the end of the account.

(Reproduced with the kind permission of the author.)