Koch Lauge

(05.07.1982 - 05.06.1964)


Danish geologist and polar explorer. One of the most famous researchers of Greenland in the first half of the 20th century, who spent 34 summer seasons and 6 winterings on this island and started mapping it during the era of sled expeditions, and later became the pioneer of aerial photography, using aircraft from airplanes to helicopters.

Born in Kalundborg in the family of Karl and Elizabeth Koch. His becoming as a scientist was greatly influenced by his father’s second cousin, Johan Koch  who is a polar explorer, a member of several Greenland expeditions headed by, among others, Ludwig Mulius-Eriksen and Alfred Wegener (on the expedition of the latter (1912 - 1913) led the way of the Greenland crossing ). He graduated from the University of Copenhagen, where he began his studies in 1911, in 1920 he received a master's degree, and in 1929 his doctoral degree, having defended his thesis on the topic “Stratigraphy of Greenland”.

Koch first visited Greenland in 1913, when he worked as an assistant in the Disco Bay area. In 1915 - 1918 He traveled with Knud Rasmussen, who studied in detail the large northwestern fjords and peninsulas of the island.

Since that time, the study of Greenland has become a matter of his life. In 1920–1923 He led the first of many of his own expeditions, which he called the “jubilee” in honor of the 200th anniversary of the start of activities in Greenland by the Danish missionary Hans Egede, who initiated its study. As part of this expedition, a 200-day toboggan trip on the northern coast of the island took place.

Since 1923, Koch has lectured in Europe and the USA. In 1926, by the decision of the Administration of Greenland, he was appointed the chief geologist of Greenland, and from 1932 until his death he was a member of its Commission for Scientific Research.

In 1929, Koch was the first to hypothesize that the geological structure of the crystalline gneisses of Greenland may be the result of Caledonian folding.

In 1930, the Danish government vested Koch with the powers of a police inspector, whose jurisdiction extended to all residents of the island.

In 1933, Lauge Koch personally participated in the first flights over the territory of Greenland, which made it possible to significantly clarify and supplement the cartographic data on the area of the Kronprinz Christian Ground. In 1935, in collaboration with the Government of Iceland, he organized a three-year expedition to study the natural resources of this country.

In 1938, after the aero expedition, he refuted the assumption (of which he himself supported) about the existence of land between Greenland and Spitsbergen. The data obtained during the same expedition allowed Koch to give a convincing explanation for the mistake made by Robert Peary, who believed that the earth that bears his name today is an island.

The Second World War forced Koch to interrupt research in 1940, but in 1947 he resumed it in full, organizing an expedition of 14 people, which spent the winter in Eastern Greenland.

Koch took part in field studies until 1959, completing them at the age of 67 due to a shortage of government subsidies. In 1960, the University of Basel awarded him the degree of Honorary Doctor of Science, and in 1963 he became an Honorary Doctor of Science at Canadian McGill University.

The merits of Lauge Koch are marked by the Danish Order of Daneborg, the Swedish Order of the Polar Star, the French Order of the Legion of Honor, the Finnish Order of the White Rose, gold and silver medals of Geographical societies of a number of countries.

Koch died from cancer in Copenhagen and was buried in a cemetery in Hersholm Hovedstaden, Denmark.

Melville Bay coast in northwestern Greenland.


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