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


Jiří Vaněk (1927 - 2018)


 Jiří Vaněk, who passed away on February 17, 2018, was an internationally renowned geophysicist, for years a doyen of Czech seismologists. Born in Prague on August 8, 1927, he graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the Charles University in Prague in 1950. He belonged to a strong generation of geophysicists and geodesists who stood at the genesis of the Institute of Geophysics of the newly established Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in 1953 – at the age of only 26. All Jiří’s scientific life was connected with the existence of the Institute.

Jiří’s early scientific interest gradually proceeded towards reliable determination of the earthquake magnitude and culminated in 1983 by a widely respected and used monograph “Earthquake Magnitude in Seismological Practice”, with L. Christoskov and N. V. Kondorskaya, his close international friends, as co-authors. In the late seventies, Jiří was fascinated by the then newly formed theory of lithospheric plates, particularly by its seismological evidence. Together with Václav Hanuš, a structural geologist, and later also with me and some of our students, Jiří has authored several tens of scientific papers explaining some specific features of the Wadati-Benioff zones, relations between seismic and volcanic processes at convergent plate margins, and other seismotectonic phenomena.

Besides successful basic research, Jiří had been involved in teaching at the Charles University from the very beginning of his career. Among many students influenced by his innovative approach to quickly developing geophysical disciplines were such personalities as Vlastislav Červený (seismic ray theory) and Jiří Zahradník (seismic source modelling). Jiří’s educational skills opened for him a position of associate professor at the Mining Academy in Freiberg, Germany, in 1958-1959, and at the Leipzig University in 1960. Later, Jiří served as the United Nations education expert at the International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering in Tokyo in 1970 – 1971, as a visiting professor at the Universidad Autónoma de México in 1978, and at the Escuela Politécnica Nacional in Quito, Ecuador, in 1984.

Jiří Vaněk is remembered as a cheerful fellow, with a broad cultural scope which included, among other things, passion for philately, excellent knowledge of international cuisine and good wine, as well as appreciation of a good football game. We do miss his relentless positive energy and joy of life.

Aleš Špičák, co-worker of Jiří Vaněk 1996 – 2017
(copied from the ESC web-page)