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Andrusov, Nikolai Ivanovich

Andrusov, Nikolai Ivanovich

(b. Odessa, Russia, 19 December 1861; d. Prague, Czechoslovakia, 27 April 1924)

geology, paleontology.

His father, Ivan Andreevich Andrusov, a navigator for a steamship company, died in a shipwreck on the Black Sea in 1870. His mother, Elena Filippovna Belaya, was the daughter of a merchant. There were five other children, two boys and three girls.

While still a Gymnasium student, Andrusov became interested in geology. During excursions throughout the Kerch Peninsula, where he spent his childhood, he familiarized himself with the geological structure of the area and collected rocks and fossils. Upon graduating from the Kerch Gymnasium in 1880, Andrusov entered Novorossiysk University in Odessa, where among his instructors were the prominent biologists I. I. Mechnikov and V. O. Kovalevski. During his first two years there he concentrated on zoology; but then, as in his Gymnasium years, he returned to geology and seriously studied paleontology. The Novorossiysk Society of Naturalists, having followed Andrusov’s activities, annually subsidized his trips to the Crimea, on which he collected both geological and zoological material.

In 1884 Andrusov graduated from the university with excellent marks, but he was not appointed to the faculty because a year before his graduation he had signed a collective protest against the dismissal of Mechnikov. Through the vigorous efforts of his friends, Andrusov went abroad for two years, where he studied in Vienna and Munich under M. Neumayr, E. Suess, K. Zittel and several other prominent geologists. During the summers he undertook scientific expeditions to the Tyrol, Croatia, and Italy.

Upon returning to Russia, Andrusov received a position at Petersburg University and remained there for the next four years. In 1887 the Petersburg Society of Naturalists sent him to the Transcaspian region for geological exploration and prospecting in Mangyshlak and Ust Urt (between the Caspian and Aral seas). The following summer he led a hydrogeological expedition to the vicinity of Kerch, and in 1889 he was made university laboratory assistant. Also in 1889 Andrusov married Nadezhda Genrikhovna (Andreevna) Schliemann, daughter of the famous archaeologist Heinrich schliemann, who had discovered the remains of Troy.

In February 1890 at Petersburg University Andrusov defended his master’s dissertation, based on his researches on the fauna in Kerch limestones. He then received the post of assistant professor of geology at Novorossiysk University. That summer Andrusov participated in anexpedition aboard the research vessel Chernomorets, which was equipped by the Russian Geographical Society and the Maritime Ministry for studying the depths of the Black Sea. In the winter of 1891 he and his family went abroad for two years. He worked in the museums of Paris, Vienna, Zagreb, and Zurich, preparing a monograph on saltwater fauna (Dreissensidae and Cardeidae).

Andrusov returned to Russia in 1893. After receiving the post of assistant professor at Peters burg University, he began to lecture on paleontology. During the next three summers he made expeditions along the coastline of the Bay of Kara-Bogaz-Gol, in the Balkans, and in the regions of the Inlet of Baku. He also measured the depths of the Sea of Marmara.

In 1896 Andrusov was appointed professeur extraordinaire at the University of Yuriev. The following year he defended his doctoral dissertation on fossils and living dreissenoids, for which the Academy of Sciences awarded him the Lomonosov Prize.

While working in Yuriev, Andrusov continued his study of the geology and Neocene fauna of the Transcaspian region, Azerbaijan, Northern Caucasus, and the Crimea, making trips each summer to southern Russia.

In 1905 Andrusov was chosen full professor at the University of Kiev. During the next seven years he held the chair of geology and paleontology at the university and was also president of the Kiev Society of Naturalists. There gathered around him a group of talented young scientists whose activity with him was the start of the Kiev scientific school of geology.

In 1912 Andrusov was appointed geologist on the Geological Committee and professor at the Bestuzhev Higher Women’s School in Petersburg. Taking note of his scientific merits, the Academy of Sciences in Petersburg elected him a corresponding member in 1910 and an academician in 1914. He next became director of the Peter I Geological Museum of the Academy of Sciences.

During World War I, Andrusov helped to create, and served on, a commission for studying Russia’s natural resources. He was elected a full member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in 1918 and was made professor at Tavricheski (Tauris) University in Simferopol, where he gathered around him such eminent scientists as V. I. Vernadski and V. A. Obruchev.

A year later Andrusov suffered a serious stroke. When he had partially recovered, his wife took him to Paris to recuperate. He taught at the Sorbonne for several years and then moved to Prague, where he died shortly afterward.

Andrusov’s research trips extended throughout the wide expanses of southern Europe and central Asia: the Caucasus, the Crimea, the Transcaspian region, Rumania, the Balkan Peninsula, and Italy. Thus he was able to compare deposits of the same age in various regions. While studying paleontological remains he did not limit himself to his own collections, but made extensive use of those in various museums.

Among the research projects of his early period, a prominent place belongs to his oceanographic work—Andrusov was one of the initiators of this kind of research. He sailed the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and the Caspian Sea, studying their depths, their currents, and the temperature and composition of the water at different depths and in various regions. But his chief attention was directed to recent bottom sediments and outcrops of bedrock. In the process of Andrusov’s oceanographic work it was established that the lower portions of the Black Sea were contaminated with hydrogen sulfide. Great scientific interest was generated by his discovery, on the bottom of the Black Sea, of deposits with post-Tertiary fauna of the Caspian type. This find served as the basis for his later interesting paleogeographic reconstructions.

While still a youth exploring the length and breadth of the Kerch Peninsula, Andrusov noticed fossil reefs of a peculiar structure and with strange organic remains embedded in them. In his subsequent investigations on the Kerch Peninsula, and also on the Taman Peninsula, he established that prominent among the reef-building organisms present were those lime-secreting attached forms which, under the conditions of burial, retained the position they occupied during their life cycles. Such structures are characterized by the absence of lamination and by a more rapid growth vertically than laterally. Andrusov gave the name “onkoids” to those types of limestone that consist of reef-building organisms developing in their place of habitation and that are frequently called bioherms. These peculiar structures are less varied in facies and are of a smaller size than in presently existing reefs. Andrusov also studied the organic limestones found in other regions, and has given a detailed monographic description of the nubecularian limestone formations in Moldavia and Mangyshlak.

The major part of Andrusov’s work was devoted to the Neocene period in southern Russia. Through-out all his life as a researcher he studied these deposits and the fauna embedded in them with exceptional thoroughness and detail. Thus, his monograph devoted to a paleontological description of the so-called Mediterranean stage of the northern Black Sea environs, Miocene and Pliocene deposits of the eastern part of the Caucasus and Transcaspian area, was significant for decades. Andrusov’s study of mollusks in marine basins and closed basins with abnormal salinity, which periodically appeared in Neocene times within the boundaries of the Ponto-Caspian region, was especially important.

Andrusov distinguished and described a large number of new species, many of which were accepted as key fossils for different stages of the Neocene period. Relying on paleontological data, he established a detailed subdivision of Tertiary deposits in the oil-bearing regions of the Caucasus, defining most of the presently existing stratigraphic units: the Tarkhanski, Chokrak, Karagan, and Konka horizons; the Akchagylian and Apsheronian stages; and the Kuyalinik beds. He also established the extent of the Sarmatian and Pontian stages.

A significant place in Andrusov’s paleontological-stratigraphical works was allotted to the elucidation of the paleogeographic conditions of the period under study. Those of his works that deal with this elucidation contain brilliant models of analysis of facies relationships and ecological features in the habitat of fossil organisms. Andrusov endeavored to establish the composition of the population of each paleogeo-graphic zone by species and the interrelation of various forms that have a common habitat. That is, he studied not simply the fauna of any one horizon but the biocenosis that characterized it.

Andrusov regarded the environment of animals and plants as the decisive factor in organic evolution, and in many respects his work was conductive to the formulation, at the begining of the twentieth century, of a new direction in geology: paleoecology.

Besides paleontological-stratigraphical and paleogeographical works, a prominent place in Andrusov’s writing is occupied by his studies of regional geology—works that, as a rule, throw light on the tectonic structure of a region. Of special interest in this connection is his essay on the geotectonics of the Kerch Peninsula and an examination of the conditions for formation of submarine terraces. A series of his scientific papers concerns the origin of oil and describes the mud volcanoes of southeastern Caucasus.

Andrusov worked with great energy in the Society of Naturalists at the universities of Yuriev and Kiev. He was one of the organizers of the seventh session of the International Geological Congress (convened in Russia in 1897), and he participated in its activities. He was also the founder of the journal Geologicheski vestnik (“Geological Herald”) and was its editor for a number of years. Andrusov wrote more than 120 scientific works, the great majority of which received wide dissemination among paleontologists and stratigraphers in many countries.

Andrusov is recognized as the founder of the stratigraphy of the Neocene deposits in southern Russia and contiguous territories; and the schema he worked out for the subdivision of Upper Tertiary deposits has become the standard for all investigators of the Cenozoic era.


Among Andrusov’s writings are “Kerchenski izvestniak i ego fauna” (“Kerch Limestone and Its Fauna”), in Zapiski S. Peterburgskogo Mineralogicheskogo Obschestva (Memoirs of the St. Petersburg Mineralogical Society), 26 , sec, 2 (1890), 193–345; “Die südrussische Neogenablagerungen,” ibid., 34 ; sec 2(1896), 195–295; 36 sec. 1 (1899), 101–170; 39 . sec. 2 (1902), 337–495; 44 (1906). 289–499 “Iskopaemye i zhivuschie Dreissensidea of Evrasia”, (“The Fossil and Living Dreissensidae of Euraia), in Trudy S. Peterburgskogo Obschestva estestvoispytatelei (Transactions of the St. Petersburg Society of Naturalists), 25 , div, of geol. and miner., 1-IV, I-683, 1 map, 20 plates; Die fossilen Bryozoenriffe der Halbinseln Kertsch und Taman, 3 vols. (Kiev, 1909–1912); “Apsheronski yarus” (“The Apsheronian Stage”), in Trudy Geologicheskogo Komiteta (Transactions of the Geological Committee), 110 (1923), I-VI, 1–294; Vospominaniya, 1871–1890 (“Remembrances, 1871–1890” [Paris, 1923]), 1–198; Izbrannye trudy v 4 tomakh (“Selected Works in Four Volumes” [Moscow, 1961–1965]).

V. V. Tikhomirov

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