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Kristoffer Szilas Professor of geologyst at University of Copenhagen.

Associate Professor of Geology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

My name is Kristoffer Szilas, and here you can find information about my research into the geology of Greenland, and about my hobby, mountain climbing.


In 2012 I earned my PhD degree in geology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. I then moved to the US, where I worked for two years in New York City as a post-doctoral researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, and then spent another two-years at Stanford University in California. After moving back to Denmark in 2017, I was a postdoc at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) for one year, before starting as tenure-track assistant professor at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen. Since 2021 I have been a permanent faculty member, and I am currently an Associate Professor teaching mineralogy and economic geology. I also currently serve as an associate editor for the high-impact journal Geoscience Frontiers.

All of my fieldwork has been carried out in Greenland, where I have spent 15 summers collecting samples for my different research projects. At Instagram, I present some photos from fieldwork in various parts of Greenland.


My area of research focuses on the petrology and geochemistry of rocks in Greenland from the Archaean Eon, ranging in age from 3.8 to 2.5 billion years old. These rocks show the earliest evidence of surface processes and life on Earth. Back then Earth was a very different planet from what we know now. The Sun was about 25% less bright, there was no oxygen in the atmosphere, the few small continents that had formed by then would have been completely submerged in iron-rich oceans, due to the hotter mantle and lower crust, which could not support the weight of large mountains. Earth was basically a cold water world covered by green oceans (due to reduced iron hydroxide aka. green rust).


For a few years I did research on what type of tectonic setting was likely responsible for the Archaean volcanic rocks found in south-west Greenland. The conclusion based on my peer-reviewed publications consistently point towards a subduction zone environment, similar to what is presently found in the circum-Pacific region. This means that despite the vastly different conditions of the early Earth, the shallow volcanic processes have not changed much over the course of the past several billions of years. However, the processing of such crust to form continents, has definitely changed due to the cooler mantle and crustal temperatures that exist today and therefore continent formation has essentially ceased.


I currently lead the Early Earth Research Group at the University of Copenhagen. One of our research projects is about the origins of ultramafic rocks in south-west Greenland, which are somewhat enigmatic. These Archaean rocks are commonly disturbed by alteration to a degree that makes it difficult to determine if they represent magmas, cumulates or mantle rocks. We are therefore using platinum-group element systematics to solve this problem, because these elements are relatively immobile and can yield diagnostic features that relate to the petrogenesis of such ultramafic rocks.


You can see more about me at LinkedIn, or find my CV HERE.

I have research profiles at: Google Scholar, Research Gate, Scopus, Academia, Loop, Orcid, and Web of Science.

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