The Central Asiatic (Tibet, Xianjiang, Pamir) petrological collections of Sven Hedin (1865-1952) - Swedish explorer and adventurer

Roberto F. Weinberg, Owen R. Green

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During a 42 year period (1893-1935), the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin led and co-ordinated four expeditions to remote and inhospitable parts of Central Asia (Tibet, Xinjiang, Pamir). Along with collaborators he collected a diverse collection of just under 3100 petrological specimens. Petrographic examples of high pressure metamorphic blueschists, mantle peridotites and serpentinites, granitoids, K-rich alkaline lavas, mylonites, and a range of elastic and fossil rich carbonate sedimentary rocks are present. This collection is a major asset for scientists studying the history of continental collision between India and Asia, and the uplift of the Tibetan plateau. A spreadsheet listing all the samples collected during Hedin's first three expeditions into Tibet (commencing 1893, 1899, 1906) includes a brief description and location of each specimen, with additional information on the availability of thin sections. Samples are cross-referenced with the geographical position of Hedin's campsites indicated on maps published with his extensive reports. Most samples, and a number of thin sections, are available for loan from the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Stockholm. We also describe a smaller collection of specimens and thin sections from Hedin's fourth (1927-35, Sino-Swedish) expedition, currently housed at the Institute of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University. Hedin's career as an explorer, highlighting the geological significance of his work and the reasons that it has remained largely ignored by the majority of Himalayan and Central Asian researchers for so many years, is outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-308
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Central Asia exploration
  • Collections database
  • Petrological
  • Sven Hedin

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