Raymond Thorsteinsson

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Dr. Raymond Thorsteinsson
Born(1921-01-21)January 21, 1921
DiedApril 23, 2012(2012-04-23) (aged 91)
Calgary, Alberta,
Alma materUniversity of Saskatchewan
University of Toronto
University of Kansas
Known forArctic Geology
AwardsOrder of Canada (OC)
Gold Medal
Willet G. Miller Medal
Logan Medal
Massey Medal
R.J.W. Douglas Medal
Scientific career
InstitutionsGeological Survey of Canada

Raymond (Ray) Thorsteinsson, OC FRSC (January 21, 1921 – April 23, 2012)[1] was a Canadian geologist who focused on the geology of the high Arctic. He was a Fellow of The Arctic Institute of North America, primarily known for his contribution to the geology of the Proterozoic and Paleozoic rocks.


Thorsteinsson was born in Wynyard, Saskatchewan of Icelandic heritage.[1] He obtained a BSc in geology at the University of Saskatchewan (1944) and an MSc in geology at the University of Toronto. In 1955, he earned a PhD from the University of Kansas.

Thorsteinsson began work in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, in 1947, as a summer field assistant. One of his assignments included an epic canoe trip with Dr. Y.O. Fortier to perform geological reconnaissance in the centre of the largely unknown Arctic region. He began his lifelong career with the Geological Survey of Canada in 1952. He spent most of his time studying the Arctic. At first, his fieldwork was completed on foot and by dog team. He advanced the study of the Canadian Arctic by pioneering the method of landing small aircraft, with oversize tires, in remote places on the Arctic Islands. His work and that of his fellow geologists at the GSC led to extensive land acquisitions during the late 1950s and early 1960s by oil and mining companies.

Dr. Thorsteinsson made significant contributions in the fields of structural geology and biochronology, as well as in regional stratigraphy. In 1973, the Royal Society of Canada noted

His work is particularly characterized by its breadth and includes structural, stratigraphic, and biochronological histories of the enormously thick rock succession of the Islands and forms the basis of all future work. As a result of his studies the geological history and sedimentary column in the Islands are better understood than those in many areas of Canada that have been studied far longer. Few scientists have been fortunate enough to be presented with such a challenge and opportunity, and few could have risen to and mastered such a challenge.

Thorsteinsson published more than fifty maps and articles. His geological maps had scales varying from 1/125,000 to 1/500,000.

Thorsteinsson also performed paleontological studies. He made fundamental advances in the knowledge of graptolites and of the extinct ostracoderm fish. He established the most complete succession of faunal zones in Pennsylvanian and Permian rocks in the Arctic.



  1. ^ a b "Dr. Raymond THORSTEINSSON". Globe and Mail. May 4, 2012.
  2. ^ Order of Canada citation