The 2022 Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal is awarded to Elisabetta Erba for research excellence in marine micropalaeontology, Mesozoic stratigraphy and palaeoceanography, and for major contributions to scientific drilling in marine and terrestrial realms.
Elisabetta Erba is a Professor at Department of Earth Sciences at University of Milan. She is the third of the famous Milano female dynasty (Cita, Premoli Silva, Erba) who has revolutionized the field of micropalaeontology in the last 50 years. Elisabetta Erba started her extraordinary career in the late 1980’s with a focus on the investigation of calcareous nannoplankton in Mesozoic sedimentary rocks. She used the micron-sized plankton particles as detailed stratigraphic markers in the study of Mesozoic marine sediments. She was among the first who successfully demonstrated that measured fluctuations in the Mesozoic carbonate carbon isotope record were synchronous on an ocean-wide scale and that they record perturbations in global carbon cycling. Elisabetta Erba recognized that assemblages of calcareous nannoplankton preserve relevant information on past open ocean ecology, on palaeoceanography and on marine calcification in a high-CO2 world. She discovered how “nannoconid crises” coincided with episodes of rapid change in the Mesozoic global carbon cycle. Together with Roger Larson she correlated the Aptian Oceanic Event with the onset of volcanism in the Pacific Ontong-Java Plateau by dating sediments within lava flows in the Ontong-Java Plateau.
Elisabetta Erba’s ability to collaborate successfully with colleagues from geophysics and geochemistry is reflected in an impressive list of highly-cited publications. As a team player she took a leading role in several continental drilling projects, including campaigns with focus on episodes of extreme environmental change in Jurassic and Cretaceous times. With her broad expertise she continues to contribute to the International Ocean Drilling Program. She was successful in keeping Italy as a partner in the Program, which relies heavily on the expertise of Italian micropaleontologists.
The publication list of Elisabetta Erba is a testament of her continued scientific productivity over the last 30 years and her ability to forge interdisciplinary advances. Elisabetta Erba is tutor of numerous PhD theses and she is a role model for many young researchers in Italy and abroad.
In summary, Elisabetta is a highly innovative scientist and a passionate teacher, she has made exceptional contributions to the field of micropaleontology, stratigraphy and paleoceanography. For all of these reasons, Elisabetta Erba is a worthy recipient of the 2022 EGU Jean Baptiste Lamarck Medal.