Skip to Main Content


Zoeppritz, Karl, was born on October 22, 1881, in Mergelstetten, Württemberg, Germany, and died on July 20, 1908, in Göttingen, Germany. He studied geology in Munich and Freiburg, Germany, but also was interested in physics and geophysics. In 1905, Zoeppritz obtained a Ph.D. in geology at Freiburg University, studying the alpine geology of Switzerland. He transferred to Karlsruhe, where he obtained a degree in secondary schoolteaching (Oberlehrerexamen).

In 1906, Zoeppritz moved to Göttingen, where he became assistant to Emil Wiechert at the Geophysical Institute. Zoeppritz analyzed earthquake data, soon collaborating with Wiechert. To understand the interior of the earth and possible discontinuities within it, they studied traveltime curves and constructed velocity-depth functions. Wiechert had calculated theoretical traveltime curves for different kinds of first- and second-order discontinuities, and Zoeppritz applied that theory to the full set of reflection and refraction coefficients for plane-wave amplitudes at a first-order discontinuity (Zoeppritz, 1919).

Another part of Zoeppritz’s work, in collaboration with Ludwig Geiger, derived the P-wave velocity within the earth (Zoeppritz and Geiger, 1909).

When Zoeppritz died in 1908 after contracting an infection at age 26, Wiechert, Geiger, and Beno Gutenberg subsequently successfully finished his calculations. Zoeppritz’s wife, Elisabeth Ganz, helped to prepare his manuscripts for printing. Thus, some of Zoeppritz’s work was published shortly after he died. However, the last of his papers, concerned with reflection and transmission coefficients, was not published until 1919, 11 years after his death.

You do not currently have access to this chapter.

Figures & Tables





Citing Books via

Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal