History

The Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences (Instytut Geofizyki, Polska Akademia Nauk – IGF PAN) continues the long tradition of geophysical surveys in Poland, of both theoretical and experimental nature. The world’s first department of geophysics was established in 1895 by Professor M.P. Rudzki at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

Another important scientific event was the discovery of the transcontinental tectonic zone made at the turn of the 19th and the 20th century by the eminent Polish geologist Wawrzyniec Teisseyre, which was later confirmed by the magnetic studies conducted by A.J.H. Tornquist. The first geophysical observatories in Poland were established in Kraków (where, among other things, the results of a 25-year series of measurements of ground-level ozone were published in 1882), Lvov, Warszawa, Świder and other places.

The Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, was founded in 1953, initially (until 1970) as the Department of Geophysics (Zakład Geofizyki). At the beginning, the studies conducted at the Institute were limited to selected topics in the field of seismology, physics of the Earth’s interior and Earth’s magnetism; gradually, other areas of geophysics, such as physics of the atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetosphere, oceanography, planetary geodesy and hydrology, were included in the scope of the research. Expansion of the thematic scope took place in connection with the International Geophysical Year in the years 1957/1958. The Institute participated in international studies, polar and tropical expeditions organised at the time, and the establishment of geophysical stations in the polar regions and in Vietnam.

Throughout the existence of the Institute, great importance was attached to geophysical measurements, mainly seismic and magnetic, as well as to measurements of atmospheric ozone and UV radiation. Thanks to that, the Institute possesses a very long series of data on an international scale. The main experimental facility of the Institute is the Central Geophysical Observatory in Belsk, whose construction started during the International Geophysical Year and was completed eight years later. The results of studies of deep crustal structures by means of explosion seismology methods, which have been conducted since 1965, and the geomagnetic soundings are of outstanding international importance. They focus in particular on the study of deep structures in the area of the Teisseyre-Tornquist Zone. The Institute also gained global recognition in the field of research on mining seismology. The simultaneously conducted theoretical works covering a wide range of issues resulted in a number of important, internationally recognized results, especially in the field of physics of earthquakes. In the years 1973–1978, some departments were separated from the Institute of Geophysics, creating independent research institutions, namely the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Centre for Space Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Projects