Alan Edward Beck, Professor Emeritus of Geophysics at the University of Western Ontario, passed away peacefully on December 1st, 2020 at his home in London, Ontario. He was born January 27th, 1928 in London, England.
Professor Beck was the Head of the Department of Geophysics (now Earth Sciences) at the Western Ontario from 1963 to his retirement in 1993. From 1979 to 1983, he chaired the International Heat Flow Commission (IHFC), the inter-association commission of the IASPEI, and held leading positions in several international scientific organizations. In particular, he was a promoter of the foundation of the International Geothermal Association (IGA) since its first preparatory meeting, held in 1987 in Sparks (USA).
He took part in several heat-flow measurement projects in regions of North, Central and South America, Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe. Alan’s lifelong scientific interest in the terrestrial heat-flow measurement and the study of the Earth’s thermal state led to invitations to speak around the world.
Among his pioneering works are experimental studies on borehole temperature measurements, thermophysical properties of geological materials and crustal radiogenic heat production. He designed and implemented the “Divide-Bar apparatus”, a well-known, classic technique for thermal conductivity measurements, which has been adopted in many laboratories worldwide and calibrated following his indications. More recently, he addressed the reconstruction of ground surface temperature history from underground temperature records. He was the author of the textbook 'Physical Principles of Exploration Methods' and numerous other publications. Professor Beck was the 1993 winner of J. Tuzo Wilson Medal of the Canadian Geophysical Union.
Alan was by far one of the most respected and loved members of the geothermal community and his passing away is indeed a great loss. He played a formative role model for many scientists in several respects - in his approach to scientific questions, as a textbook author, and (not the least important aspect) also in human terms. His benevolent smile, exigent but highly equitable personality and witty humour were displayed since the first meeting.
This is why we will always keep his honorable memory in our hearts.
The International Heat Flow Commission