Gerald Hohmann

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Gerald Hohmann
Gerald W. Hohmann.png
Latest company University of Utah
Membership Honorary

Gerald W. Hohmann (1940 - 1992) was noted for his contributions to geophysical methods involving electromagnetc induction.

Honorable Mention (Geophysics) 1993

T. Wang and G. W. Hohmann (posthumously) received 1993 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for their paper A finite-difference time-domain solution for three-dimensional electromagnetic modeling.[1]

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 1992

Jerry Hohmann was a respected member of the SEG, ASEG, AGU, and the IEEE. He stated his teaching and research interests as inversion theory, potential theory, electromagnetic theory, signal processing, numerical modeling, and field and theoretical research in electromagnetic methods of geophysics. He was without peer worldwide as an applied electrical geophysicist specializing in numerical modeling.

It is with great regret that we use the past tense, for Gerald Hohmann died May 23, 1992, from cancer. He was almost 52.

Jerry obtained a BS in geophysical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1962. For the next two years he was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. From 1964 to 1966, he was a field geophysicist with Kennecott Copper Corporation (KCC) and afterwards joined the rambunctious but intelligent and forceful group of graduate students in Engineering Geoscience at the University of California (Berkeley). He obtained his MS and PhD degrees at Berkeley, where the direction of his career was set. From 1970 to 1977, Jerry served first as research geophysicist and then as chief research geophysicist with KCC. During this period, his natural talents as a teacher, as well as a researcher, led to his appointment in 1972 as an adjunct professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah. He joined the faculty full-time in 1977 and quickly rose from untenured associate professor to a tenured professor. Jerry was the ultimate in teachers: kind, considerate, leading rather than dictating, soft and gentle in both his classroom and his office, yet demanding in his expectations, and receiving the utmost respect from his students and his peers.

Jerry served the SEG well as Associate Editor of Geophysics 1980-81, as Faculty Advisor of the University of Utah Geophysical Society for several years, as President of the Utah Geophysical Society 1986-87, and as District 2 Representative from 1990 until his untimely death. He authored or coauthored 42 papers in Geophysics or in other SEG publications.

His students and colleagues at the University of Utah recognized him with the Departmental Outstanding Teaching Award (1981), the Departmental Outstanding Faculty Research Award ('82 and '89) and the University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award ('91).

We think the main paper resulting from his PhD research, entitled Electromagnetic scattering by conductors in the earth near a line source of current (Geophysics 1971), set a cornerstone for much of his later work on forward electromagnetic modeling using the volume-integral method. He was a pioneer in this methodology applied to practical mineral exploration problems. His paper, Three-dimensional induced polarization and electromagnetic modeling (Geophysics 1975), was selected for SEG's Best Paper in Geophysics Award and subsequently for the Geophysics Classics of 1985. Jerry also received awards for the Best Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting in '75 and '88.

In the late '70s, Jerry started working on 3-D MT and AMT responses and published (with co-authors) a series of important papers in this area. This was the beginning of the MT part of his publication career. About the same time, although his early research was concentrated on frequency-domain applications, Jerry became interested in the emerging time-domain techniques.

The start of Jerry's work in time-domain EM came with the publication of the M. L. Oristaglio and Hohmann paper, Diffusion of electromagnetic fields in a two-dimensional earth: a finite difference approach (Geophysics 1984). This was truly ingenuous in terms of both theory and dynamic presentation.

In the late '70s, he worked with Oristaglio and K. G. McCracken on a fundamental analysis of time-domain versus frequency-domain EM in mineral exploration. Their critical analysis was published in Geophysics in 1986. From there on, the time-domain was Jerry's kettle of fish and he, his students, and his colleagues published many superb papers on it.

When Jerry was required to teach inversion theory at the University of Utah, he started to infiltrate that literature, too. His 1983 Geophysics paper was soon followed by other truly significant papers, with some still in print at this writing. Naturally, Jerry had many coauthors, mostly his students. They would, we feel sure, agree to our decision to make reference to the paper and not necessarily to the senior author.

In 1982, Jerry established the Consortium for Electromagnetic Modeling and Inversion at the University of Utah, which was the first of its kind for research in electrical methods in mining, oil and geothermal exploration.

How often does one find a teacher and a researcher of such breadth of interest, dedication to his profession, and of such devotion to and care for his students? Jerry has always been an honorable member of the SEG and now, at last, he is an Honorary Member of the SEG.

Stanley H. Ward and Misac Nabighian
Your Return
for Jerry Hohmann
Last night when you returned
To speak on overfolds
Your office had grown
Large enough to hold
Seven students sitting in a crescent
Looking straight ahead, saying nothing.
Perhaps it was evening,
Perhaps it was late spring.
The students flanked you,
Their faces dim in such
Uncertain light.
You were fifty but looked not much
Older than the students.
How pale and young you were.
Yet, in your office austerely furnished
With stellar dust, you assailed slate and flysch.
Next moring back at work
On earthquakes and blue clays
I determined densities of,
I knew you died in May
When they switched off the air.
I crossed the hall and you were gone.
-Meredith Picard

Until Jerry Hohmann's early and tragic death, Meredith (M. Dane) Picard was a colleague, tennis partner, and close friend at the University of Utah. Picard earned a BS at the University of Wyoming and a PhD in geology (1963) from Princeton, doing his dissertation on paleomagnetism in Triassic red beds. He has written several books and numerous papers, essays, book reviews, and abstracts on geological subjects. He served as president of SEPM from 1984 to 1985 and became an Honorary Member in 1989. His poetry has appeared in many literary reviews, including Kansas Quarterly, Descant, Kentucky Poetry Review, REAL, Plains Poetry Journal, Plainsongs, and Oyez.

SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award 1975

Gerald W. Hohmann received the 1975 SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award for his paper Three-dimensional induced-polarization and electromagnetic modeling[2]


  1. Tsili Wang and Gerald W. Hohmann (1993). ”A finite‐difference, time‐domain solution for three‐dimensional electromagnetic modeling.” Geophysics A finite‐difference, time‐domain solution for three‐dimensional electromagnetic modeling, 58(6), 797-809.[1]
  2. Hohmann, G. W. (1975), Three-dimensional induced-polarization and electromagnetic modeling Geophysics 40(2):309.