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


George Purcaru (1939 – 2016)


On 24 October 2016, the mathematician and seismologist Dr. George Emil Purcary died in Frankfurt, Germany at the age of 77. George Purcaru was born on 22 March 1939 in Budişteni, Romania and grew up in Tecuci. In 1960, he graduated from the University of Bucharest after studying mathematics and seismology since 1955. During the years 1961 – 1973 George Purcaru worked at the Geophysical Research Center of the Romanian Academy in Bucharest as a researcher. Then, he was granted with a Norwegian stipend for a one year research visit at NORSAR, Norway, in 1974 – 75. During the same time, George worked on his PhD thesis “Studies on earthquake statistics, seismicity and prediction of earthquakes”, which he defended in 1976 at the University of Oulu, Finland. In 1975, George Purcaru moved to Germany to work with Prof. Hans Berckhemer (1926 – 2014) at the Goethe University Frankfurt.

During his entire career, George Purcaru’s interest in statistics defined his main seismological research topics: magnitude relations and distribution of strong earthquakes in time and space, and earthquake prediction. In 1978, he proposed together with Berckhemer a new magnitude scale for very large earthquakes, the “strain-energy magnitude”. Coming from a country with several earthquake disasters during the 20th century, George particularly worked on the prediction problem of large Vrancea earthquakes. For many years, George Purcaru was leading the working group on earthquake prediction of the European Seismological Commission, and over many decades, George was an active participant of major seismological conferences all over the globe. He is remembered by many colleagues for his enthusiastic contributions to scientific discussions during these meetings.
J. Schweitzer