Geologist Fridtjof Riis in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has been awarded Hjelmelandsprisen 2011.
The award was given for his scientific work which proved that the Ritland crater was formed by a meteorite striking the mountain area.
The meteorite struck at a speed of 15-20 kilometres per second, about 500 million years ago. It was in the 1980s that Fridtjof Riis, during a hiking trip in the area, noted that fossils could be found fairly deep in the terrain in the Ritland structure, but also much higher on top of the surrounding bedrock. Later mapping in 1999 showed that the fossil-bearing layers were at the bottom of a crater-shaped structure.
About ten years later, following thorough surveys, it was proven that a meteorite strike had actually taken place in Hjelmeland Municipality in Ryfylke.
This is the second meteorite crater identified in Norway, the other is in Gardnos in Hallingdal.
The citation for the award states that ”Fridtjof Riis has put an immense effort and personal commitment into this research. With his research and burning enthusiasm for the Ritland crater, he has created a marketing opportunity for our municipality that we today cannot begin to guess the value of.”
Riis says he is very surprised and happy for the honour of receiving Hjelmelandsprisen:
”The award is an encouragement and a recognition of the work my partners at the University of Oslo and I have done,” Riis comments.
Riis has worked closely with Hjelmeland municipality in recent years. He has been a consultant during the establishment of the local exhibition in connection with the Ritland crater, and he has been a tour guide for a number of groups visiting the crater.
The award ceremony will take place on 9 February.
Fridtjof Riis has written about the Ritland crater in the magazine Norsk Sokkel.