Brian Harland 100
Walter Brian Harland (1917-2003) Geologist
Walter Brian Harland was born 23rd March 1917 in Scarborough, the son of Walter Ernest Harland, auctioneer and estate agent, and his wife, Alice Marian, née Whitfield. He was educated at Bootham School in York and Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated in Geological Sciences and started his PhD. Harland spent much of the Second World War teaching at West China University, now known as the Chengdu University of Technology.
Brian spent 43 field seasons in the geological mapping of the Polar archipelago of Svalbard, beginning in 1938 and ending in the 1990s, leading 29 expeditions. The ice field "Harlandisen" on the main island of Spitsbergen is named in his honour. In 1968, he received the Royal Geographical Society Gold Medal for Arctic exploration and research.
Brian was a Demonstrator in the Department of Geology (later Earth Sciences) Cambridge University 1946-48, Lecturer 1948-66, Reader 1966-84 and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge 1950-84 (life Fellow 1984-2003). He was instrumental in the establishment of the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme (CASP).
Brian was married to Elisabeth Harland, an independent counsellor, and they had 4 children- Marian, Edward, Hilary and Beatrice. Brian died in Cambridge in 2003, and Elisabeth in 2016.
The Svalbard Archive includes over 1000 boxes of records which include expedition notes, specimen catalogues, field notebooks, photographs, negatives, slides, maps, reports and some objects. The collection is being catalogued and repackaged by the Archivist and volunteers.
The specimen collection contains over 60,000 items, including igneous and metamorphic rocks as well as structural, geochemical, geophysical and subsurface samples. Fossils were also collected during the expeditions along with the rock not only for taxonomy but for their environmental significance and tectonic importance.
For further information about the Cambridge Svalbard Exploration Collection Archive (ref. CSEC), please visit the Archives Hub.
For further information about CASP, please visit their website.
An online display of records from the Cambridge Svalbard Exploration Collection has been brought together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Brian’s birth.
A small facsimile display is currently on display at the Museum stores.
Please click on an image for further information.
© Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences/Harland Family.