International Association of Seismology
and Physics of the Earth's Interior


Adam M. Dziewoński (1936 - 2016)


Adam Marian Dziewoński, Frank F. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science, Emeritus at Harvard University, passed away on March 1, 2016 in Cambridge, Mass., USA, only one month after being diagnosed with cancer, in his 80th year.

Professor Dziewoński was a towering figure in the field of solid earth geophysics. Specializing in seismology, he made many seminal contributions to our knowledge of the Earth's deep structure and earthquake source processes. One of his prominent achievements was providing the first direct proof that the central part of the Earth's iron core is solid, using normal mode frequency data (Dziewonski & Gilbert, 1971). Together with Don Anderson, he was tasked by IASPEI in 1979 to develop a reference 1D seismic earth model, which became PREM (Preliminary Reference Earth Model, Dziewonski & Anderson, 1981). PREM has withstood the test of time and is still, today, considered as a reference for many seismological, mineral physics and geodynamic modeling efforts. He was the father of global seismic tomography, publishing the first long wavelength model of the lower mantle in 1979, and the first global tomographic model of the upper mantle, together with John Woodhouse, 1984. This was followed by many generations of upper mantle and whole mantle 3D seismic models. With student George Chou and colleague John Woodhouse, he also initiated the Harvard Centroid Moment Tensor catalog in 1981, an invaluable database for various tectonic studies.

He also contributed in many ways to the research infrastructure in this field. In particular, he was one of the main drivers of the establishment of an international global network of state-of-the-art digital, broadband seismic observatories (FDSN, Federation of Digital Seismic Networks), and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology(IRIS), that to this day provide essential information for world-wide earthquake monitoring and investigation of the Earth’s interior. He educated and inspired several generations of seismologists, for whom he was a role model. Always generous with his time, he also encouraged and supported the careers of many young scientists.

Adam Dziewoński was honored with many awards for his fundamental contributions to Earth Sciences, including the Crafoord Prize (1998, shared with Don L. Anderson), the Bowie Medal of the American Geophysical Union (2002), the Harry F. Reid medal of the Seismological Society of America (1999). He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, foreign member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, as well as Doctor Honoris Causa of the Kraków School of Mines, Poland.

Adam Dziewoński was born in Lwów (then Poland) on November 15, 1936. He was educated at the University of Warsaw and at the Kraków School of Mines (Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza), where he obtained a Ph.D. in 1965. Since then, he has lived and worked in the U.S.A., first at the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies in Dallas, Texas, then at the University of Texas at Dallas, and finally at Harvard University. As professor emeritus, he was still actively involved in research at the time of his passing. Adam's wife of 43 years, Sybil, passed away in 2010. He is survived by his brother, Stanislaw and sister-in-law, Ewa, two nephews, and 5 grandnephews, all of Wroclaw, Poland.

Barbara Romanowicz
March 24, 2016