KURITA Hiroshi, PhD, Dept of Geology, Niigata University


A spectacular view of an outcrop of Middle Miocene boulder conglomarate, tilted gently to the right. The lithological characteristics including very-poor sorting, lack of internal structures except vague stratification, angular shape of grains, and matrix-support textures indicate deposition from sandy (inertia) debris-flows under a subaerial condition. This rugged facies is a manifestation of rapid faulting during the rift stage of the backarc opening in the Japan Sea region. Hideya, Aga Town, Niigata Prefecture, northeast Japan.


Professional Expertise

Field geology
Sedimentary geology

Palynology (Mesozoic – Cenozoic dinoflagellate cysts, Neogene pollen)

Basin analysis

Petroleum geology

Microscopic organic facies analysis


Research Fields of Interest

Analysis of Cenozoic basin development and sedimentation in northern Japan

Biostratigraphy of Mesozoic – Cenozoic dinoflagellate cysts (organic-walled microfossils)

Depositional environments and sedimentation of organic particles in geologic records





A shallow marine, deltaic sandstone body of Early Pleistocene, analogous to some subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs (ABOVE). This is also true for highly porous, Miocene perlitic rhyolite in the backarc setting (TOP RIGHT). Conglomerates of debris-flow origin manifest the very beginning of the Miocene rift system (MIDDLE RIGHT). Long-term activity of a fault, now between basement granite (BOTTOM RIGHT, at center) and Miocene deposits (at right) affected the basin development. All from the Niigata area.



Dinoflagellates, unicellular algae, have been a significant primary producer in the aquatic realm since Triassic. Microfossils of organic-walled cysts of this group are very informative for age determination and paleoenvironmental investigation. Their size ranges from 20 up to 150 micrometers. Examples from Cretaceous – Tertiary.



2000:      Ph.D in Geology, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Japan

1982:      B.S. in Geology, Faculty of Science, Tohoku University, Japan

Previous occupation

1982-2001:  19 years experience as well-site geologist and research staff on stratigraphy/ palynology with a Japanese oil company (Japex)

Professional Societies and Activities

1. Geological Society of Japan

2. American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

3. Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM)

4. American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists (AASP)

5. Japanese Association of Petroleum Technology (JAPT); a member of the board of trustees

6. Sedimentological Society of Japan (SSJ); former editor-in-chief

7. Palaeontological Society of Japan



1. Distinguished Papers awarded by JAPT, 1998

2. Significant Scientific Achievement awarded by Palaeontological Society of Japan, 2007

3. Excellence in Education Award by Niigata University, 2008


Major Publications

[1] Kurita, H. , “Paleogene dinoflagellate cyst biostratigraphy of northern Japan”, Micropaleontology, vol. 50, supplement no. 2, 3-50, 2004

[2] Kurita, H. and Obuse, A., “Middle Miocene -uppermost lower Pliocene dinoflagellate cyst biostratigraphy, ODP Leg 186 Hole 1151A, off Sanriku Coast of northern Japan, northwestern Pacific” In Suyehiro, K., Sacks, I.S., Acton, G.D. and Oda, M. (eds.), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, vol. 186, Available online from http://www-odp.tamu.edu/publications/186_SR/ 105/105.htm, 2003

[3] Kurita, H. and Matsuoka, K., “Dinoflagellates”, In Ikeya, N., Hirano, H. and Ogasawara, K., eds., “The database of Japanese fossil type specimens described during the 20th Century”, Special Papers, no. 39, Palaeontological Society of Japan, 11-16, 2001

[4] Kurita, H. and McIntyre, D. J., “Paleocene dinoflagellates from the Turtle Mountain Formation, southwestern Manitoba, Canada”, Palynology, no. 19, 119-136, 1995

[5] Kurita, H. and Matsuoka, K., “Trinovantedinium boreale Bujak-dominated dinoflagellate assemblages from Eocene - Oligocene stratified water in northern Japan”, Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, vol. 84, 129-153, 1994

[6] Kurita, H. and McIntyre, D. J., “Dinoflagellate assemblages and depositional environments of the Campanian Bearpaw Formation, Alberta”, Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin, no.479, 67-83, 1994

[7] Yagishita, K., Obuse, A. and Kurita, H., “Lithology and palynology of Neogene sediments on the narrow edge of the Kitakami Massif (basement rocks), northeast Japan: Significant change for depositional environments as a result of plate tectonics”, The Island Arc, vol. 12, 268-280, 2003

[8] Hara, H., Kurihara, T., Kuroda, J., Adachi, Y., Kurita, H., Wakita. K, Hisada, K., Charusiri, P., Charoentitiratan, T. and Chaodumrong, P., “Geological and geochemical aspects of a Devonian siliceous sequence in northern Thailand: Implications for the opening of the Paleo-Tethys”, Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, vol. 297, 452-464, 2010