History of Geology at Tartu University
The geological disciplines have been taught at the University of Tartu since 1802 and the same date marks the beginning of research in geology at the University.
Chair of Natural Sciences and Mineralogy of the Faculty of Philosophy and the Mineralogical Cabinet of the Tartu University were founded in 1820.Teaching and research in geology has been continuous since that. The first professor of geology, heading the Chair of Geology, was Otto Moritz Ludwig von Engelhardt.
In 1822 the Associate Professor (Private Docent) Karl Eduard Eichwald started first time in whole Russian Empire lecturing Palaeontology course and in1839 the mineralogy studyplan consisting of 13 subjects was established. First Doctor of Science in geology at Tartu University was defended in 1859 by Constantin Grewingk, who was the Professor of Mineralogy at Tartu University in 1854-1887.
After the birth of the Estonian Republic, Estonian was established as the teaching language in 1920. In 1924, Hendrik Bekker, a native Estonian, was elected as the Professor of Geology.
Since 1922, the Museum of Geology, with the collections established in 1802, was open to the public. In 1924, the publication series ‘Proceedings of the Institute of Geology, University of Tartu’ was established (over 60 issues during 20 years, mainly in German). During the following years, teaching and reserach in geology was directed by professors Armin Öpik, Artur Luha, Evald Möls, Karl Orviku, Arvo Rõõmusoks and Aadu Loog.
The Chair of Geology, existing since after the WW2 was reorganised in 1992 as the Institute of Geology of the University of Tartu, headed by Prof. Volli Kalm. In 1996-2002, the institute was headed by Prof. Tõnu Meidla and in 2002-2012 by Prof. Kalle Kirsimäe. In 2008 the Institute of Geology was reorganized into Department of Geology that belongs to the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences.
Since 2013 the Department is headed by Prof. Tõnu Meidla. The Department has three chairs: the Chair of Geology and Mineralogy (Prof. Kalle Kirsimäe), the Chair of Palaeontology and Stratigraphy (Prof. Tõnu Meidla) and the Chair of Applied Geology (Prof. Volli Kalm, running as Rector of Tartu University since 2012).