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Faroe Islands

Morten S. Riishuus


Morten S. Riishuus is a Danish senior researcher at the Faroese Geological Survey. He holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Aarhus, Denmark.


What was your main reason for coming to the Faroe Islands?

After eight years as a senior researcher at the Nordic Volcanological Center at the University of Iceland, an interesting job was advertised at the Faroese Geological Survey. The job presented an opportunity to conduct work founded in research but directed toward industry and governing of natural resources, which is new for someone coming from academia. I already collaborated with people at the survey and the job would allow me to continue with my long-term research on large volcanic provinces.

What was surprising for you when you moved to the Faroe Islands?

At the first Christmas party I attended, the director of the survey personally served aquavit to the employees, poured into the very same glass. In Denmark we usually get each our own glass! It was a pleasant surprise though and left me with a sense of sharing, of being a family. I enjoyed it. I am told that this practice is common at home parties, weddings etc.

What was it like to settle in?

The Faroese have their own national identity and culture but do share some culture and history with the Danes. Being a Dane I found it rather straight-forward to settle in – the Faroese being able to speak Danish at a high level and I myself being familiar with the Icelandic language.

What kind of research are you involved in?

The Faroese Geological Survey is a sector research institution responsible for administration, consultation and research on natural resources (oil & gas exploration, minerals, onshore and offshore geological mapping, ground water and geothermal waters, infrastructure planning etc.). The Faroese on/offshore sector holds possibilities for hydrocarbon fields in a large volcanic province. I work on various on/offshore projects relating to the geological mapping, structural volcanology, and stratigraphy relating to the past tectonic and volcanic history of the Faroe Islands, with implications for natural resources.

What is it like to work as a researcher in the Faroe Islands?

For someone dedicated to further our understanding of the plethora of physical and chemical processes that produce and shape large volcanic provinces, it is a privilege to be a researcher here. The local geoscience research community is not large, and this presents some challenges and opportunities. Fewer people may be presented with more responsibilities, running the risks of lack of specialization. On the other hand the same individuals may – for the same reasons – have more opportunities to make a difference providing proper support and through collaboration with visiting researchers. I do miss the presence of a larger local research community in my field of research. It is and continues to be important for researchers based in the Faroe Islands to travel to conferences/workshops/short courses abroad to learn latest advances and to maintain and widen their international networks. I also find that access to international academic journals and library resources should be improved for researchers based in the Faroe Islands.

How are your career perspectives in the Faroe Islands?

My career perspectives here probably depend on future exploration investments in Faroese sector, local policies with regard to willingness to invest in knowledge in natural earth resources, as well as on my family.

What do you miss from your home country?

First and foremost my family that is based in Denmark and therefore I commute frequently between Tórshavn and Aarhus, Denmark.