Rudolf Gutdeutsch (1930 - 2021)

 Rudolf Gutdeutsch (1930 - 2021)

On 11 August 2021, at the age of 90, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rudolf Gutdeutsch, a renowned Austrian geophysicist, passed away.

Dr. Gutdeutsch was born on 9 October 1930 in Hannover, Germany. Before he joined the Technical University at Clausthal in 1959, he worked for the company SEISMOS. From 1963-1972 he worked at the University of Hamburg – with a short sabbatical at the University of California in Berkeley. During that time, he took part in several marine seismic surveys. 1970-1971 he was Professor for Geophysics at the Institute for Physics of the Earth’s Interior at the University of Hamburg. In 1971 he accepted a full professorship at the University of Vienna in Austria – a position he held up to his retirement in 2000.

The mid 1970s were dominated by seismic surveys spanning the Austrian Alps which were conducted by his institute. These surveys led to better understanding of the structure of the Alpine orogene.

After the plebiscite against the usage of nuclear power to meet electric power demands in Austria in 1978, Gutdeutsch was instrumental in establishing the discipline of „Historical Earthquake Research” in Austria, which culminated in the publication „Erdbeben als historisches Ereignis“ (together with Ch. Hammerl, I. Mayer and K. Vocelka in 1987). In 1986 he became the chairman of the newly established Working Group on “Historical Earthquake Data” of the European Seismological Commission (ESC). During that time, Gutdeutsch had also developed a keen interest in potential theory and its application in geophysics, which led to the book „Anwendungen der Potentialtheorie aufgeophysikalische Felder“ in 1986. He lectured in all fields of geophysics – including signal analysis. After the introduction of computers in the 1980s the latter was then – and still is – a hot topic and its knowledge remains a pre-requisite of the understanding of digital data.

After many working trips leading him to e.g., Hungary, the Czech Republic, the United States and New Zealand, he remained in close contact with Lajos Stegena of the Eötvös University in Budapest, Antal Ádám of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Sopron and Vít Kárník of the Technical University Prague. He also fancied arts, literature and – last but not least - music.

Wolfgang Lenhardt, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Vienna, Austria