Alfred Rittmann

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


Rittmann was born in 1893 as son of a dentist in Basel. He studied from 1913 up there and received his PhD in 1922 in Geneva by Louis Claude Duparc over platinum- bearing rocks in the Urals. 1926-1934 he was a member of Immanuel Friedlaender at the Institute of Volcanology in Naples. There he published his first works, which have received international attention. Among other things he described in "Evolution and differentiation of the Somma - Vesuvius magma " the internal structure of Vesuvius and the development of its magma, a work that formed the basis of all subsequent work on the volcano for decades to come.

1934 returned Rittmann back to Switzerland and was until 1941 worked as a lecturer at the University of Basel. During this time, 1936, he took part in the Danish expedition to Greenland led by Lauge Koch. 1941-1948 he returned there in Italy and led on behalf of the Italian state geological investigations in the area of Naples, in Tuscany and in Albania.

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

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

In 1989, the mineral Rittmannit was named after the explorer.

Works (selection)

Pictures of Alfred Rittmann