Professor Gregor Eberli Named the Robert Nathan Ginsburg Endowed Chair in Marine Geosciences

Professor Gregor Eberli Named the Robert Nathan Ginsburg Endowed Chair in Marine Geosciences

Gregor Eberli, Ph.D.
By Diana Udel

Gregor Eberli, Ph.D.

Professor Gregor Eberli Named the Robert Nathan Ginsburg Endowed Chair in Marine Geosciences

By Diana Udel

A renowned educator and researcher, Professor Gregor Eberli, Ph.D., has been named the Robert Nathan Ginsburg Endowed Chair in Marine Geosciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

“It is a pleasure to honor one of our most distinguished faculty members with this endowed chair, which advances our school’s leadership in marine geoscience research,” said Dean Roni Avissar. “Endowments like the generous legacy from the late Professor Ginsburg and his family provide vital support for our mission of education, research and service, in keeping with UM President Julio Frenk’s roadmap to the future.”

Since joining the Rosenstiel School’s faculty in 1991, Eberli has conducted extensive worldwide research on sea level, seismic stratigraphy, and using the carbonate sedimentary record to unravel the Earth’s changing climate.  He was a postdoctoral trainee with Ginsburg, who founded the school’s Comparative Sedimentology Laboratory (CSL) in 1970 and passed away in 2017. Last year, the school hosted a three-day Robert Ginsburg Legacy Symposium. 

“This important endowment will allow our faculty and students to expand their research into some of today’s most pressing climate-related issues, such as sea level rise and shallow and deep-water coral reef systems,” said Eberli, who is professor of marine geosciences and director of the school’s CSL. 

Eberli grew up in rural Switzerland and earned his master’s degree and doctorate at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich. “I learned to integrate geophysics, sedimentology, and geochemistry,” he said.  “My dissertation research dealt with the opening of the southern Tethys Ocean between Europe and Africa about 180-160 million years ago, drawing on sediments that were deposited in the deepening ocean basins.”

In 1985, Eberli came to the Rosenstiel School as a postdoc to study with Ginsburg, using the first available seismic data across the Great Bahama Bank to reveal the internal architecture of the Earth’s largest isolated carbonate platform, which is built by the sedimentation of fossilized coral and other sea life over millions of years. 

“For many years, the changing sea level has been a focus of our laboratory’s research,” said Eberli. “We should now be in a period of global cooling, instead we are in a warming phase caused by human interaction with our environment and the sea level is rising. The marine geologic record helps us understand the dynamics of such sea level rises and the consequences for the coastal system and communities”

Recent projects in Belize, Miami, and The Bahamas have revealed that sea level has fluctuated during the last interglacial period, approximately 120,000 years ago. At that time, much of Florida and the Bahamas were underwater, and the shallow-water limestone shoals of that time now form the geological foundation for much of South Florida, Eberli said.  

Eberli has also studied the sediments moved and deposited by the Gulf Stream that document its initiation some 12.5 million years ago. More recently, he helped establish the onset of the modern strength of the Indian monsoon at 13 million years ago, showing how it has varied since then. He also investigates cold-water corals, which form a hidden ecosystem below the Gulf Stream that is larger than the shallow-water coral system in the Florida and Bahamas region. 

In the past 30 years, Eberli has published over 170 peer-reviewed articles and received several awards, including the Johannes Walther Award from the International Association of Sedimentologists; the Grover E. Murray Memorial Distinguished Educator Award from American Association of Petroleum Geologists; and the Medal of Merit from the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists.  He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as well as the Geological Society of Americas, and is a member of the University of Miami’s Iron Arrow Honor Society. He also serves on the board of the nonprofit Ocean Research and Education organization.