Gerta Keller Receives Honoris Causa Degree from The University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Wednesday, Jun 23, 2021
by The Department of Geosciences

Gerta Keller, Professor of Geosciences. Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications

Gerta Keller, Professor of Geosciences. Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications

On June 4 (2021) Gerta Keller received the Honoris Causa Degree of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, from the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment. Gerta was honored to receive this Honorary Doctorate Degree for her life-long research contributions to the mass extinction that killed off over 70% of Earth’s life, known as the Dinosaur mass extinction 66 million years ago.

This mass extinction is commonly believed to have been caused by a meteorite impact on Yucatan, Mexico, leaving a crater known as Chicxulub. Decades of research by my small team of students and collaborators, including from the University of Lausanne, have yielded a wealth of critical information that questioned the impact theory as sole cause and precise age for this mass extinction. Our research discoveries revealed Deccan volcanism in India as the most likely primary cause with the killing mechanism being rapid climate warming from greenhouse gases, ocean acidification, acid rain, and toxic gas emissions distributed globally and generating repeated toxic environments, particularly due to volcanic mercury gas emissions. Evidence supporting the volcanism theory for mass extinctions has been found for all five major mass extinctions in Earth’s history and looms large as important analog for the currently ongoing sixth mass extinction where even more rapid climate warming is caused by fossil fuel burning and toxic emissions leaving life as vulnerable to humans as it was to dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

In Prof. Keller's words: Our global research spanning four decades could not have been achieved without the many graduate and undergraduate students, current and past collaborators and supporters. I gratefully share this academic honor with all of them.

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Gerta Keller receiving award (Fr. 49:39)
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