Geologist and geoscientist Hendrik Falck has been recognized nationally for a career of chasing mysteries in the relatively unstudied North.
Geoscientists Canada announced Monday that Falck, a GNWT mineral deposits geologist, is this year’s recipient of the Canadian Professional Geoscientist Award.
The national award recognizes the achievements of an established geoscientist who has made significant contributions to the profession and to its larger surrounding community.
Throughout his career, Falck has focused on developing a better understanding of the resources in the North and how best to make use of them in sustainable ways. He has looked at the resources in the Mackenzie Mountains, the impact of climate change on winter roads, and the implications of the Nahanni Park expansions.
Andrea Waldie, CEO of Geoscientists Canada, said Falck’s field work “is a great contribution, but then you put it in with all of his volunteer work, all sorts of committees, national, international and local. And then he still finds time to support the young geoscientists and mentor them along so that we don’t run out of these good people. He is contributing to the profession, to Canada, to the economy, everything.”
To be selected for the award, each jurisdiction of geoscience regulators across Canada can nominate the best of their members. Those nominations go to a committee on Geoscientists Canada, who select the recipient of the nominations based on their contributions to the development of the field and its public recognition in Canada.
“It’s to showcase that these great people are doing great things in support of Canada, in support of the profession, in support of young people, and in other things as well,” says Waldie. “The regulators are picking from amongst 14,000 professional geoscientists. So it’s quite an honour to be awarded this.”
Falck, who resides in Yellowknife, credits much of the excitement of geology to the constant challenges and questions involved in telling a story about the rocks.
“In many ways, it’s like working on a murder mystery,” he said. “You come into a room, you see a body on the ground, and ask how did it get there and what happened. You’re always trying to put together a story on the clues that we’re seeing in the rocks, how did they get there, what happened to them, what changes over time, what changes in their chemistry, how did they start and how did end up the way they are.”
Having different perspectives in putting together that puzzle is one of the things Falck enjoys most about working with students and young geologists.
“Everyone looks at rocks in different fashions, everyone sees different things, and talking with each other and learning how we see the information and how we can express that, that’s part of the real challenges of the profession,” he said.
Throughout his career, Falck has worked in northern points of Greenland, Alaska and throughout Northern Canada. He said “the opportunities in the North are endless,” and that to work in such a big, under-researched area is part of the fun.
“There are still lots of new things that can be discovered and that’s one of the exciting things about working up here is that you’re often walking to places where you can be pretty confident that there aren’t a lot of footprints that have gone ahead of you,” he said. “That’s not true in a lot of other parts of the world.”