Alfred Rittmann

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Alfred Rittmann (born March 23, 1893 in Basel , † September 19, 1980 in Piazza Armerina , Sicily ) was a Swiss volcanologist . He was best known for his exploration of the volcanic regions of Italy and basic volcanological research.


Rittmann was born in Basel in 1893 as the son of a dentist. He studied there from 1913 and received his doctorate in Geneva in 1922 under Louis Claude Duparc on platinum-bearing rocks in the Urals . From 1926 to 1934 he was an employee of Immanuel Friedlaender at his Institute for Volcanology in Naples . There he published his first work, which received international attention. Among other things, in “Evolution and Differentiation of the Somma-Vesuvius Magma” he described the inner structure of Vesuvius and the development of its magma , a work that formed the basis of all subsequent work on the volcano for decades.

In 1934 Rittmann returned to Switzerland and worked as a private lecturer at the University of Basel until 1941 . During this time, in 1936, he took part in the Danish Greenland Expedition led by Lauge Koch . 1941–1948 he stayed in Italy again and carried out geological surveys in the vicinity of Naples, Tuscany and Albania on behalf of the Italian state.

From 1949 Rittmann worked at the University of Alexandria , in 1954 he was appointed full professor of the Mineralogical-Geological Institute of the University of Cairo . 1960–1963 he was head of the Volcanological Institute at the University of Catania . Until 1968 he also headed the International Institute for Volcanology in Catania, which was founded on his initiative in 1960.

Alfred Rittmann was President of the International Association of Volcanology from 1954 to 1963 and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bern in 1959 . Among other awards, he was awarded the Gustav Steinmann Medal in 1965 . He has published over 150 articles and 7 books. His work "Volcanoes and their activity", first published in 1936, became one of the standard textbooks in volcanology . The second edition in 1960 was translated into English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Romanian and Chinese. The third, completely revised edition appeared posthumously in 1981.

In 1989 the mineral rittmannite was named after the researcher. The shield volcano Mount Rittmann in Antarctica also bears his name.

Works (selection)

  • 1929: The zone method. A contribution to the method of plagioclase determination using the theodolite table. Swiss mineral. petrogr. Mitt., Vol. 9, pp. 1-46
  • 1930: Geology of the island of Ischia, magazine for volcanology, supplement 6, Reimer Verlag, Berlin
  • 1933: The geologically determined evolution and differentiation of the Somma-Vesuvius magma. Zeitschrift für Vulkanologie, Volume 15, Pages 8-94
  • 1936: Vulkane and their activity, Enke Verlag, Stuttgart 1st edition
  • 1941: About the state of the earth's interior and its formation from a homogeneous original state (with Werner Kuhn), Geologische Rundschau, Volume 32, No. 3, pp. 215–156
  • 1973: Stable mineral assemblages of igneous rocks, Springer Verlag
  • 1981: Vulkane and their activity, 3rd edition, Ferdinand Enke Verlag Stuttgart 1981, ISBN 3-432-87793-6


Web links


  1. Since 2000 the institute has been called "Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia", Catania.