Sunday, November 7, 2010

Maria Klenova (1898-1976)

Maria Vasilyevna Klenova (Russian: Мари́я Васи́льевна Клёнова) (1898–1976) was a Russian and Soviet marine geologist and one of the founders of Russian marine science.[1]

Klenova studied to become a professor and later on worked as a member of the Council for Antarctic Research of the USSR Academy of Sciences. During that time she spent nearly thirty years researching in the Polar Regions and become the first woman scientist to do research in Antarctica, specifically at the ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions) station at Macquarie Island.

Klenova began her marine geology career in 1925 as a researcher aboard the Soviet research vessel Persey, attached to the Floating Marine Research Institute in the Barents Sea and the archipelagos of Novaya Zemlya, Spitsbergen, and Franz Josef Land. In 1933 Klenova produced the first complete seabed map of the Barents Sea.

In 1949 Klenova became a senior research associate at the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Her work included analyses of seabed geology in the Atlantic Ocean and the Antarctic, and in the Caspian, Barents and White Seas. In the austral summer of 1956 she traveled with a Soviet oceanographic team to map uncharted areas of the Antarctic coast.

The Klenova Valley (84°36′N 55°00′W / 84.6°N 55°W / 84.6; -55), an oceanographic valley discovered in 1981–1983 by the USSR Northern Fleet Hydrographic Expedition is named after her. Klenova crater on Venus is also named in her honor.

Her contributions helped to create the first Antarctic atlas, a groundbreaking four-volume work published in the Soviet Union. Dr. Klenova spent most of her time making observations on board the Russian icebreakers Ob and Lena. Her group took oceanographic measurements in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters.

Along with Klenova there were seven other women on board the Ob. At that time women were rarely allowed to venture on land and had to rely on their male colleagues to collect and bring back data samples. In between these two voyages she worked at Mirny, a Russian base on the Queen Mary Coast (which is shared by Australian and Polish Research Stations). On the way home Klenova went to Macquarie Island where she became the first female scientist ever to go ashore.

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