Man's understanding of how this planet is put together and how it evolved has changed radically during the last 30 years. This great revolution in geology - now usually subsumed under the concept of Plate Tectonics - brought the realization that convection within the Earth is responsible for the origin of today's ocean basins and conti nents, and that the grand features of the Earth's surface are the product of ongoing large-scale horizontal motions. Some of these notions were put forward earlier in this century (by A. Wegener, in 1912, and by A. Holmes, in 1929), but most of the new ideas were an outgrowth of the study of the ocean floor after World War II. In its impact on the earth sciences, the plate tectonics revolution is comparable to the upheaval wrought by the ideas of Charles Darwin (1809-1882), which started the intense discussion on the evolution of the biosphere that has recently heated up again. Darwin drew his inspiration from observations on island life made during the voyage of the Beagle (1831-1836), and his work gave strong impetus to the first global oceanographic expedition, the voyage of HMS Challenger (1872- 1876). Ever since, oceanographic research has been intimately associ ated with fundamental advances in the knowledge of Earth. This should come as no surprise. After all, our planet's surface is mostly ocean.
The "Sea Floor" is designed to acquaint students with the most important results achieved in marine geology over the last three decades and the scientists who brought them about. Written by two of marine geology's leading exponents, it lays the groundwork for studies in geology, oceanography and environmental sciences by summarizing modern insights into tectonics and marine morphology, the geological processes at work on the sea floor, and the Earth's climatic history as recorded in deep sea sediments.
Eugen Seibold was born in Stuttgart. He studied geology in Bonn and in Tbingen. Subsequently he taught at the University of Tübingen, but moved to Kiel in 1958 to study modern marine sedimentation and manage the Geological-Palaeontological Institute of the University as its director. From 1980 he accepted positions as the President of the DFG (the German National Science Foundation), as Vice-President of the European Science Foundation, and as the President of the International Union of Geological Sciences. He was President of the European Science Foundation from 1984 to 1990, and a member of various academies, including the Leopoldina (Akademie der Naturforscher, Halle in Saxony-Anhalt) and the Académie des Sciences in Paris.
Seibold's many contributions to geology were well recognized he was a recipient of internationally known awards (e.g., the Gustav-Steinmann Medal, the Hans-Stille Medal, the Leopold-von-Buch Plakette), as well as the Walter-Kertz Medal in Geophysics and the Blue Planet Prize of the Asahi Foundation. The Asahi Foundation's prize especially recognizes contributions of relevance to society. The prize was used, in part, to fund the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize, an award furthering Japanese-German scientific interaction.
Among outstanding paradigms within Seibold's many contributions (including geologic education) one might emphasize his insights regarding the role of exchange between marginal basins and the open sea in determining the deposits accumulating in shelf basins. He assigned an estuarine-type exchange to black shale sedimentation and an anti-estuarine type to carbonate deposits. Both types of sediment are prominent in the geologic record (and are conspicuous in the Jurassic of southern Germany, his original training ground). Significantly, black shales are commonly a source for hydrocarbon products, while carbonates often serve as reservoir rocks. Obviously, both rock types help define our time in human history. It is typical for Seibold that he thought we should know about their origin.
Wolfgang Berger is an acclaimed researcher in micropaleontology, marine geology, and oceanography. He has published over 200 research articles and several books on a broad array of topics in oceanography and on climate change. Berger earned numerous medals and prizes during his career, among others the Bigelow Medal, the Humboldt Award, and the Steinmann Medal.
Berger earned in 1961 his Vordiplom degree in geology at the University of Erlangen and in 1963 his master's degree in geology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In 1968 he received his PhD in oceanography from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). From 1968 to 1970 he did research at the UCSD's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and in 1970/1971 he was an Assistant at the Geological Institute of the University of Kiel. In 1971 he became an assistant professor, in 1974 an associate professor, and then in 1981 a professor at the Scripps Institution, where he was in 1996/1997 the interim director. In 1997 Berger became the director of the California Space Institute in San Diego.
His research is especially concerned with the ecology of planktonic foraminifera and the reconstruction of the climate and the marine environment of the Cenozoic.