Estonian paleontologist who spent the second half of his career (from 1948) at the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Australia. Hegraduated from the Nicolai Gymnasium with high grades in 1917. He studied geology and mineralogy at the Estonian State University at Tartu. He was lecturer at that institution in geology and mineralogy (1929–30). In 1930 he became professor of geology and paleontology and director of the Geological Institute and Museum, until 1944. Opik’s published on stratigraphic correlation, facies distribution, paleogeography and biostratonomy of the Cambrian and lower Ordovician in Estonia. When the Russian army threatened to overrun his country of birth in 1944, Opik fled with his family. He lived in displaced persons’ camps in Germany until his emigration to Australia in 1948.
Opik was assisted by C. Teichert and H. Raggatt, director of the newly established Bureau of Mineral Resources, to immigrate to Australia and start working at the Melbourne office of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The next year he transferred to Canberra (1949). He began studies on the Ordovician to Devonian stratigraphy of the Australian Capital Territory. From 1952 to 1982, Opik made 27 publications on Cambrian stratigraphy and paleontology. He described 94 new genera and 294 new species of Cambrian trilobites. He also studied Cambrian agnostid trilobites. In 1962 he became fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
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