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Fritz Gassmann was born on July 22, 1899, in Zurich, Switzerland, and died there on April 9, 1990. Gassmann qualified as a primary schoolteacher in 1919 and went on to study mathematics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). This culminated in a mathematics Ph.D. in 1925 and in his habilitation in geophysics in 1928, enabling him to lecture at the institute. Gassmann’s interest in geophysics began when the field was still in its infancy and he was in a two-year stint as an assistant at the Swiss Meteorological Institute, in the Department for Earthquake Studies.

From 1928 through 1942, Gassmann had a remarkable dual career. While lecturing in geophysics at ETH, he also taught mathematics at Aarau Canton High School, where he became rector in 1937. In 1942, Gassmann was elected associate professor of geophysics at ETH, allowing him to concentrate full time on research. From 1952 through 1969, he was a full professor at ETH and head of its Geophysics Department, which he had founded in 1934.

Throughout his career, Gassmann published research on a wide variety of topics, including elasticity and elastic waves, earthquake analysis and applied seismology, gravimetrics, and earth magnetism. His main interest, however, was in seismology and seismic prospecting. In 1960, Gassmann and his coworker, Max Weber, published a textbook, Einfuehrung in die angewandte Geophysik (Introduction to Applied Geophysics).

Most of Gassmann’s papers were written and published in German, and because of that and his reluctance to attend conferences, recognition for his

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