Emma Rehnström, Sweden’s Geologist of the Year 2020, makes you discover traces of volcanoes, earthquakes and dinosaurs in Scania

Nov 27, 2020 | 2020, EFGeoBlog, Uncategorised

EFG’s Swedish member Geosektionen, the geosciences branch of Naturvetarna, the Swedish Association of Professional Scientists, each year awards a geologist with the title “Geologist of the Year”. This year’s laureate is Emma Rehnström. She is awarded the title because of her numerous efforts in organising outreach activities promoting geoscience and geotourism in the society.

Emma Rehnström during fieldwork for Avannaa Resources at the Independence Fjord in northeastern Greenland. The cairn on the picture is said to mark the place where Robert Peary descended after crossing the inland icecap in 1891. Photograph 2011 by Dennis Bird.

Emma graduated in Geology at Lund University in 1998 and was awarded a Doctoral degree at the same university in 2003. Her professional work has taken her to work in Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Greenland and she has built a strong expertise in Arctic geology. Emma has been employed at universities, geological surveys as well as private companies. In 2015 she started her own private consultant company “Geologica Consult AB”.

Though from the very start, geology was not Emma’s first choice. When she applied for studies at the university, the field of geology studies was only at the third position behind biology and chemistry. But that last summer before she started her university studies Emma read several science and geosciences books, among others “Earth from Above” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand and subsequently decided that she would enrol for geology studies. A decision she does not regret.

Emma is an impressively dedicated and enthusiastic person, who offers a diverse service portfolio through her company, including among others organising geological exhibitions, performing field inspections, mineral resources exploration as well as rock quality analysis for the aggregate industry.

“I do microscopic analysis of rocks to investigate the suitability as raw material for aggregate production. It is gravel and crushed stone that form the basis of our roads and other infrastructure.”

Emma Rehnström during a guided tour at Stenshuvud in eastern Skåne. Photograph 2017 by Simon Lundin.

 “These parks exist all over the world, but not in Sweden. It would increase interest in geology and also get more people out into nature.”

In 2020 she received the “Geologist of the Year” award for her ability to popularise geology towards society. In this ongoing work, she gives lectures and guides groups on excursions. Many areas have historically been influenced by geological factors and it is fascinating to point out the geological perspective of cultural and historical heritage in exhibitions and to communicate the eventful story on excursions.

One of her ongoing projects is to create a geopark in Scania (Skåne), in the South of Sweden, within the framework of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks. Skåne is an area that offers a big variety of rocks and geological features from a wide range of geological periods. There is a story to tell about the way the landscape we see today has been shaped by geological processes. How the now abandoned historical mining areas have contributed to the wealth of the region. How climate, soil and bedrock interact and result in different types of land use. Why is a region more suitable for apple farming than wheat? Why do the different forests of beech and spruce grow where they do? To guide people, communicate the relation between landscape, cultural history and geology, to see the fascination and shining eyes when kids find fossils is really rewarding.

For now, you can visit the park also virtually and Coronasafe via a geotourism map (in Swedish) which presents you with several fascinating geo-spots before you plan your next travel to Sweden! According to Emma Rehnström you will be able to discover “traces of volcanoes, earthquakes, as well as dinosaurs”.

Petrified gigantic wave ripples in early Ordovician sandstone at Tobisvik/Bäckhalladalen, eastern Skåne, one of the geological sites featured in Emmas Geotourism map. The wave ripples have been formed by strong tidal currents in a shallow marine environment at ca. 10m depth. As the sandy sediment was deposited, the site was situated in a cool ocean near “the roaring fourties”, south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Since then Scandinavia has been transported a long way by continental drift, passing the equator in Silurian time, the Tropic of Cancer in Triassic and is presently positioned at northerly latitudes. Photographer Emma Rehnström.

The official prize ceremony of the title “Geologist of the year” (Årets Geolog) took place on the 11th of November 2020 as Geosektionen held its annual reward ceremony and lectures – this time in virtual format. The event was co-organised with the “Research and development day” (F&U-dag) of the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) and the annual prize awarding ceremonies of the Geological Society of Sweden. Emma Rehnström was furthermore on the very same day elected as chairwoman of the board of the Geological Society of Sweden.
The event presentations and lectures ranging over a wide area of geosciences were held in Swedish and English and will soon be uploaded here: https://www.sgu.se/om-sgu/evenemang/genomforda-evenemang/2020/fou-pa-sgu/

The content of the blogpost is based on two articles on Emma Rehnström in “Geologiskt Forum”, the popular geoscience magazine of the Geological Society of Sweden (page 4-9, issue 107, 2020) and an article in “Naturvetaren”, the magazine of “Naturvetarna” (the Swedish Professional Association of Natural Scientists; page 26-27, issue 3, 2020).

More information about Geosektionen:

https://www.naturvetarna.se/vierbjuder/professionsforeningar/Geosektionen/ (in Swedish)

More information about Naturvetarna:

https://www.naturvetarna.se/english/ (in english)

More information about the Geological Society of Sweden:


About the Author:

Magnus Johansson was born in Arvika, Sweden, but spent many years abroad in Iceland and Germany before returning to Sweden in 2007. He is at present employed at the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) where he works among others with integrating raw materials supply as a part of physical planning and gives expert opinions. He holds a MSc Diploma in Geology and another one in Physical Geography, both from the Leibnitz University of Hanover in Germany, where he also worked for several years at the Mineralogical Institute.

Since then he has spent more than ten years working in Sweden as an industrial minerals geologist with SMA Mineral AB. He has also been employed in different roles as consulting geologist and started a private geoscience consultancy in 2019.

Magnus is, moreover, chairman of the board of “Geosektionen” the Geoscience Branch of the Swedish Association of professional scientists (“Naturvetarna”) and is a member of the European Federation of Geologists’ (EFG) Panel of Experts on “Minerals and their sustainable use”.

Disclaimer: This article expresses the personal opinions of the author. These opinions may not reflect the official position of the European Federation of Geologists (EFG).