Gustav Heinrich Angenheister

second director after Emil Wiechert

Historical Earthquake Station | Persons 

Gustav Heinrich Angenheister (1878-1945)

As a successor of Emil Wiechert, Gustav Angenheister was the second director of the Institute of Geophysics in Göttingen. He studied in Heidelberg, Munich and Berlin and held a degree in experimental physics.

Accepting a position as Wiechert’s assistant in 1905 sparked his life-long commitment to geophysics. One reason for this was that he had already held the position of observational astronomer for two years at the Samoa Observatory in Apia on the Pacific island of Upolu, operated by the Göttingen institute since 1902, where he returned as an observational astronomer in 1911 and served as its director from 1914. Despite his internment during World War I, he continued to operate the observatory until it was entrusted to New Zealand in 1921.

After returning from Samoa, the diversified expertise and experience he had gained there bore fruit, reflected in the manifold scientific activities during his time in Potsdam, where he particularly promoted collaboration with the neighbouring disciplines.

Meteorology added to seismology

His appointment as the director of the Göttingen institute in 1929 gave him the opportunity to continue the work of his teacher Wiechert after the latter’s death at the by-then highly renowned institute while adding his own touch. Like Wiechert, Angenheister focused his interest mainly on seismology, more specifically on aftershock seismology. This involved the investigation of artificially generated ground disturbances, such as those caused by large quarry blasts. Glacial seismology in the Alps and in Greenland provided reliable ice thickness data for glaciology. Angenheister also managed to establish meteorology as the second discipline at the institute, which quickly gained significance in research and teaching. World War II not only prevented the further extension of the institute, but also cast a cloud over the family and life of Gustav Angenheister, which came to an end in the same year as the war.

Author: Manfred Siebert

Gustav Heinrich Angenheister
Gustav Heinrich Angenheister