In Gedenken an / in memory of Franz Tessensohn

Mit großem Bedauern mussten wir erfahren, dass Franz Tessensohn nach kurzer, schwerer Krankheit am 09. März 2019 verstorben ist. Franz Tessensohn war Begründer des Polarforschungsprogramms der Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR) und langjähriger Leiter der „Polargeologie“ an der BGR.

Mit Franz Tessensohn verlieren wir einen hoch anerkannten Wissenschaftler, geschätzten Kollegen, Freund und Ratgeber. Er spielte eine führende Rolle beim Aufbau und bei der strategischen Ausrichtung der deutschen geowissenschaftlichen Forschung sowohl in der Antarktis als auch der Arktis. Seit 1978 Mitglied der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Polarforschung hat Franz Tessensohn massgeblich die Gesellschaft mitgestaltet als auch die Wissensvermittlung der Polarforschung in eine breite Öffentlichkeit befördert.  Für seine Verdienste wurde ihm 2008 die Ehrenmitgliedschaft der DGP verliehen.

Franz Tessensohns Ableben ist ein großer Verlust für die gesamte deutsche Polarforschung.

(From the information of Andreas Läufer and Karsten Piepjohn, BGR)

With great regret and sadness, we need to inform you that Franz Tessensohn passed away last weekend after a short but severe illness, only a few months before his 80th birthday. Franz was the initiator of BGR’s polar research programme in both the Antarctic and the Arctic and long-time head of the Polar Geology group at our institution.

Franz joined BGR shortly after his PhD at the University of Tübingen in 1969 and worked first predominantly on the African continent in the early 1970s. After participation in US-American Antarctic expeditions in 1976/77 to Victoria Land and the Dry Valleys and the decision of the Federal Government to join the Antarctic Treaty System in 1979, Franz initiated the Antarctic research programme “German Antarctic North Victoria Land Expedition” (GANOVEX) with a first land-based expedition to North Victoria Land in 1979/1980. Franz was expedition leader of five GANOVEX campaigns as well as the international EUROSHACK expedition (with Mike Thomson, BAS) to the Shackleton Range. He was member of the International Steering Committee of the Cape Roberts Project. Franz initiated the construction of BGR’s Lillie Marleen Hut in 1980, today recognized as Historic Site and Monument within the Antarctic Treaty System, and German Gondwana Station at Terra Nova Bay in the Ross Sea in 1983.

When the Arctic became a second focus of BGR’s polar research in the late 1980s and after participation in an expedition of the University of Münster to Svalbard in 1988, Franz initiated the Arctic terrestrial geoscientific research programme “Correlation of Alpine Structural Events”(CASE), which was later renamed to “Circum-Arctic Structural Events” in 1998. Franz has organized the first two CASE expeditions to Spitsbergen and North Greenland in 1992 and 1994, and has carried out, together with Ulrich Mayr, three CASE expeditions to northeastern Ellesmere Island (1998 – 2000) in very close cooperation with the Geological Survey of Canada. His last fieldwork was the marine geological and geophysical expedition NARES I in Nares Strait in 2001.

Besides his scientific research activities that resulted in numerous publications, Franz initiated and co-organized international conferences and workshops, particularly ICAM III in Celle in 1998 and ISAES IX in Potsdam in 2003. After his retirement in 2004, Franz continued his polar activities particularly in establishing outreach programmes like “Cool Classes” with the aim to raise the interest for polar research in the young generation. For his engagement and merits in polar research, he received the honorary membership of the German Society of Polar Research in 2008.

Within the German geoscientific polar research community, Franz played a leading role in establishing and defining German geoscientific research in the Antarctic and Arctic land areas. As father of BGR’s polar research flagships GANOVEX and CASE, initiator and organizer of numerous expeditions he established the national and international cooperation network between BGR and geological surveys, polar research institutions, universities and museums, which has become the foundation of today’s Antarctic and Arctic international research of the BGR.

Franz’s death is a great loss to all of us.


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