The rise of professionalism 1914–1950
The VNIGRI (All Russia Petroleum Research Exploration Institute) microfauna laboratory, founded in St Petersburg (then Leningrad) in 1930, was the first micropalaeontological institution established in the USSR. Utilizing the newly established microfaunal methodology for subsurface correlation pioneered by Cushman in the USA, the laboratory managers A. V. Fursenko and N. N. Subbotina made outstanding contributions to the development of the laboratory as the leading Russian micropalaeontological centre devoted to petroleum geology. This managerial team, supported by a team of specialists were instrumental in the development of soviet micropalaeontology and its application to exploration. Despite the outbreak of World War II the Petroleum Institute continued to work but inevitably some collections were lost. Following the war Soviet scientists were particularly fruitful during the period 1945 to 1972, as typified by the book series Microfauna of the USSR, initiated by Fursenko, and followed by the series Fossil Foraminifera of the USSR (the ‘Deep Blue Books’) dedicated to the different families of foraminifera. Special mention is given to Subbotina, who throughout the history of the laboratory, as leader created a remarkably prolific research team and facilitated the dissemination of knowledge between the different geological institutes. The zenith of her career was the publication in 1953 of her work on Cenozoic planktonic foraminifera which was subsequently translated into English and was widely utilized outside of the USSR. Monographs and atlases published between the 1960s and 1990s yielded outstanding results in practice and were used in establishing the first biostratigraphic schemes for the oil- and gas-producing areas of the Russian platform. It is estimated that the VNIGRI laboratory micropalaeontologists published over one thousand articles and during the most prolific period the staff numbered more than 50 scientists and technicians.