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Russian Geological Research Institute (VSEGEI)

VSEGEI celebrated the 100th anniversary of Alexander Zhamoida

On December 6, 2021, there was a meeting of the VSEGEI Academic Council dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Zhamoida (05.12.1921 – 28.05.2021), a famous geologist, specialist in Mesozoic radiolarians, Director of the A.P. Karpinsky Russian Geological Research Institute (1979-1987), Chairman of the Interdepartmental Stratigraphic Committee (1988-2021), Vice-President of the Paleontological Society (1966-2021).

Alexander Zhamoida passed away on May 28, 2021, six months before his 100th birthday. His colleagues, like-minded people and students, hoped to celebrate such a significant date, prepared for this event, but their hopes vanished... Alexander Zhamoida lived a long and interesting life. A vivid memory of a particular epoch – the “golden age” of stratigraphy and paleontology – fades out with his death.

Oleg Petrov, VSEGEI Director General, in his speech dedicated to A. Zhamoida, told that “he was a real keeper of traditions of our institute. If you would like to know who and for how many years headed the institute as well as about major scientific achievements you could always ask Alexander Zhamoida. His constant support and positive assessment of the Institute's activities were of particular importance for me. He said that now geological mapping returned to the institute in full, for which the Geological Committee of Russia had been established.”

It should be noted that until the last moment of his life, A. Zhamoida remained active, participating in the life of the institute, the Paleontological Society, and the Interdepartmental Stratigraphic Committee. One month before his death he submitted to the VSEGEI Publishing House his book of memoirs, which he had been writing during the last year of his life. This book was released in November 2021. For all geologists, stratigraphers, and paleontologists in our country, it is a great loss. A. Zhamoida was one of the last major representatives of the Soviet generation of scientists who participated in the formation and development of geological and stratigraphic studies in the post-war period..”

Alexander Zhamoida will remain in our memory as a very bright, highly intellectual, all-round person, attentive to those around him, a wonderful storyteller, a real great scientist with a worldwide reputation..”

VSEGEI has a tradition to preserve the memory of outstanding scientists and leaders of the institute in a portrait gallery located on the second floor of the main building. Just before the anniversary, a portrait of Alexander Zhamoida was placed there.

A film about A. Zhamoida from the series of the media company Academvideo of St. Petersburg "Lomonosov's Galaxy" can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ewg56oT_FM

Brief biography of A. Zhamoida

A. Zhamoida was born on December 5, 1921 in Petrograd. After finishing school with honors in 1939, he entered the biological faculty of Leningrad State University without examinations. He managed to study only for two months. In October 1939, he was called into the Red Army. The beginning of the war A. Zhamoida met as part of the 18th Separate Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion. Alexander with his battalion went through a difficult battle route from the Trans-Dniester to the Ciscaucasia and from the Ciscaucasia to Upper Silesia in Poland, where he celebrated the Victory Day. He returned home to Leningrad only in May 1946.

In autumn 1946, A. Zhamoida entered the Leningrad Mining Institute and graduated from it in 1952. In 1949, he had his first field practice in geological surveying at a scale of 1:50,000 in the Northern Urals; in 1950, for the first time, he took part in field work in the Sikhote-Alin as a member of the VSEGEI geological survey expedition.

All further work and life of A. Zhamoida was dedicated to VSEGEI, and the east of the country became the main region of his studies in stratigraphy and paleontology. At VSEGEI, A. Zhamoida worked from a geological engineer in field parties, head of thematic parties, junior researcher, head of the microfauna laboratory (1956–1961), head of the Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology (1962–1969) to the director of the Institute. A. Zhamoida occupied this position for 17 years (1970–1987). Thanks to his persistence, on the 100th anniversary of the country's geological survey in 1982, VSEGEI was named after Academician A.P. Karpinsky.

In 1955, A. Zhamoida defended his Ph.D. thesis “Upper Paleozoic radiolarians of the Olga-Tetyukhinsky region and their stratigraphic significance.” In this work, he studied radiolarians using thin sections, made many suggestions in the development of the taxonomy of this group of microfauna, substantiated the importance of radiolarians in the differentiation and mapping of siliceous and ophiolite formations in the Far East. In 1972, A. Zhamoida defended his doctoral thesis “Biostratigraphy of Mesozoic siliceous strata in the East of the USSR". The monograph “Biostratigraphy of Mesozoic siliceous strata in the East of the USSR based on the study of radiolarians” published on its basis is still a reference book, a practical guide for paleontologists. A. Zhamoida is one of the founders of the Russian scientific school of radiolarian analysis. There are many doctors and candidates of sciences among his students. From 1969 until recently, he was the chairman of the Subcommission on Radiolarians at the Commission on Micropaleontology at the Paleontological Institute, the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In 1987, A. Zhamoida organized and headed the sector of the Interdepartmental Stratigraphic Committee (ISC) as part of VSEGEI. All editions of the national “Stratigraphic Code” were developed on his initiative and with his direct participation. Under his leadership as chairman of the ISC (1988-2021), extremely important work was carried out to create regional stratigraphic charts, which served as a basis for legends of geological maps.

For more than 50 years A. Zhamoida was constantly working on improving and introducing scientific and methodological foundations of stratigraphic studies into mapping. Largely thanks to him, highly qualified stratigraphic personnel worked at VSEGEI and stratigraphic studies were widely expanded.

A. Zhamoida played an important role in the preparation of large geological generalizations including the monograph “Geology of the USSR”, multivolume “Stratigraphy of the USSR”, “Geology of the USSR and Mineral Distribution Patterns”, nine-volume edition of the “Practical Guide to the Microfauna of the USSR” and many others. All these studies provided high level of regional geological surveys in the Russian Federation and are a reliable basis for present-day geological mapping. Taking into account the merits of A. Zhamoida in stratigraphy, the Academy of Sciences of the USSR elected him a corresponding member (1987).

A. Zhamoida was engaged in international activities. For a quarter of a century, from 1972 to 1996, he headed the Subcommission for Northern Eurasia at the Commission for the Geological Map of the World (CGMW), actively worked in the International Subcommission on Stratigraphic Classification. Being a member of the National Committee of Geologists since 1971, A. Zhamoida officially represented the Geological Survey of the Soviet Union at the 24th to 28th International Geological Congresses.

Since 1966, A. Zhamoida was Vice President of the Russian Paleontological Society. For many years, until recently, he was the organizer and inspirer of the successful and stable work of the Society, which annually gathered Russian stratigraphers and paleontologists at its annual sessions.

A. Zhamoida is the author and co-author of more than 500 scientific papers, including 11 monographs (mostly collective); his writings were published abroad.

A. Zhamoida was awarded orders and medals of the Great Patriotic War. He had numerous awards for his great contribution to the development of national geoscience and was awarded the national order of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He is an Honoured Scientist of the RSFSR (1982), an Honoured Prospector. In 2011, A. Zhamoida became a laureate of the highest geological award of the Russian Academy of Sciences – the A.P. Karpinsky Gold Medal.


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