Vestnik Otdelenia nauk o Zemle RAN, VOL. 4, NZ6001, doi:10.2205/2012NZ000114, 2012

The founder of modern seismology Boris Borisovich Golitsyn (1862–1916): In commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary

A. V. Ponomarev, A. Ya. Sidorin

Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth, Russia, Moscow


A brief overview of the activity of Academician Prince Boris B. Golitsyn (1862–1916) at various positions is presented and his key scientific achievements in seismology are described. At the very beginning of the XX century, B. Golitsyn designed and extensively introduced in practical seismic observations the seismographs that converted seismic vibrations into electrical signals. It may be said without exaggeration that the advances in seismic measurements that ensued from these Golitsyn's efforts can be referred to as a revolutionary breakthrough in seismometry. Since that time, seismology has become an exact science relying on the data of instrumental observations; a possibility was opened to study the sources and origin of earthquakes, seismic waves, seismicity, and the internal structure of the Earth by rigorous physical and mathematical methods.

B. B. Golitsyn developed the mathematical theory of seismic rays and suggested the theoretical basis for calculating the true ground displacements from seismograms. Using the data measured with his seismographs as an experimental input, Golitsyn solved the problem of locating earthquake epicenters from seismic records at a single station. He developed methods for evaluating the seismic energy released by the earthquake source, suggested a way to study the Earth's internal structure using the angle of seismic waves approach, and identified new discontinuities in the Earth's interior, which had not been known previously.

B. B. Golitsyn comprehensively investigated the properties of microseismic vibrations, formulated a concept of seismic prospecting and engineering seismology, suggested a research program aimed at searching for earthquake precursors, developed the network of seismic stations in Russia, and solved a number of other important problems. Owing to his outstanding contribution to seismology, Boris B. Golitsyn is acknowledged as the founder of this science.

Received 9 October 2012; published 13 November 2012.

Citation: Ponomarev A. V., A. Ya. Sidorin (2012), The founder of modern seismology Boris Borisovich Golitsyn (1862–1916): In commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary, Vestn. Otd. nauk Zemle, 4, NZ6001, doi:10.2205/2012NZ000114.

Copyright 2012 by the Geophysical Center RAS