The 2009 Sergey Soloviev Medal is awarded to Jochen Zschau for his commitment and enthusiasm to bridge the gap between fundamental research related to the physics of natural hazards and the implementation of risk reduction technologies for the benefit of society.
Dr. Jochen Zschau is Director of the “Physics of the Earth” Department at the GeoForschungs Zentrum, Potsdam, and holds a full professorship at the University of Potsdam. Throughout his scientific career, he has a strong affinity for geodynamic processes and natural hazards like storm tides, earthquakes, volcanic activities, and tsunamis. As a geophysicist he published fundamental works about the rheology of the Earth, loading effects, tidal friction, the properties of fault zones, and the predictability of earthquakes in a system of self-organized criticality. Long before “interdisciplinarity” and “multi-parameter” observatories became fashionable; he recognized the importance of bringing together people with different perspectives, from natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, economics, and prevention authorities. He did so as coordinator of cooperative international research projects like the German-Turkish project on earthquake (prediction) research, the German-Indonesian volcano research project “Mechanism Evaluation, Risk Assessment, Prediction Improvement” (MERAPI), as well as the European Union project “Seismic Early Warning for Europe”. He was one of the leading designers of the German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System for the Indian Ocean. Common to all these projects was the involvement of decision makers and disaster managers from the very beginning to foster their understanding of natural hazards on the management level and to sharpen the view of scientists for practical needs for the implementation of risk-reducing measures.