European Seismological Commission

In Memory of Rudolf Gutdeutsch

Rudolf Gutdeutsch (1930-2021)

Rudolf GutdeutschOn 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 1970’s 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 auf geophysikalische Felder“ in 1986. He lectured in all fields of geophysics – including signal analysis. After the introduction of computers in the 1980’s 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.

 Photo credit: Christa Hammerl 

Author: Wolfgang Lenhardt, former IASPEI-representative and former ESC-Titular Member of Austria, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG)





ESC/SSA Travel Grant to attend the 2024 SSA Annual Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska

Apply for the ESC/SSA travel grant by the deadline of 30 November 2023! Seismologists from any member state of the ESC are eligble to apply. We encourage in particular students and early-career researchers to consider applying. More information can be found here.

From the ESC Working Groups:

Visit the website of the WG Preservation, valorisation and analysis of seismological legacy data

Visit the website of the WG Harmonizing Internet Macroseismology in Europe 

Contribute to the Portal of the ESC WG on Communication here

Get to know the website of the FAULT2SHA Working Group and find out forthcoming activities! The WG promotes a new initiative, open to all researchers interested in contributing to discussions on topics that could improve the assessment of seismic hazard.


Find out about the Young Seismologist Training Course here.


What were the past General Assemblies of the ESC like? Find out! Interesting documentation has been made easily accessible.

This list summarizes the files.


Sadly we announce the loss of esteemed and beloved colleagues and friends:

Older obituaries can be found here.