W. Brian Harland bigraphy, stories - Geologists

W. Brian Harland : biography

22 March 1917 - 1 November 2003

Walter Brian Harland (22 March 1917 – 1 November 2003) was a geologist at the University of Cambridge Department of Earth Sciences, England. In 1968, he was honoured with the Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal for Arctic exploration and research.

Professional background

In Cambridge, Harland was instrumental in the establishment of the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme (CASP). He played an early role in the avocation of the theory of continental drift and making the first observations of the global occurrence of glaciation, which were to form the foundations of Snowball Earth theory. He was also a figure in the ongoing maintenance of the International Geologic timescale.

He also spent 43 field seasons in the geological mapping of the Polar archipelago of Svalbard, beginning in 1938 and ending in the 1980s, leading 29 expeditions. The ice field "Harlandisen" on the main island of Spitsbergen is named in his honour. The University retains a collection of some 70,000 specimens collected over these years.

Harland spent much of the Second World War teaching at West China University, know known as the Chengdu University of Technology, and later in life would become a trustee of the Needham Research Institute and a fellow of Caius.


In 1968, Dr. W. Brian Harland received the Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal for Arctic exploration and research., Royal Geographic Society. Retrieved 2011-02-02.

Personal background

Harland was born in Scarborough, and educated at Bootham School in York and Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated in Geological Sciences and took his PhD; from 1950 until his death. He was deeply interested in the interactions between science, philosophy, and religion, and for most of his life was a Quaker.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine