Robert Seemann


I first met Dr Seemann in 1979 at the International Symposium History of Speleology, in Vienna, Austria, so it came as a great shock to learn that shortly before Christmas, on the 20th of December 2010 he passed away due to a cerebral haemorrhage, two weeks before his retirement.

Robert Seemann was born in Vienna (Austria) on the 12th of July 1945. He studied physics and chemistry and, in 1974, achieved a PhD in mineralogy and petrography on the genesis of pyrites from the karst of the Northern Calcareous Alps at the University of Vienna. He had already started working at the Natural History Museum in Vienna in 1971 and in 2004 he was appointed director of the Department of Mineralogy and Petrology.

Robert was an enthusiastic speleologist and became a member of the Landesverein für Höhlenkunde in Wien und Niederösterreich (Speleological Association of Vienna and Lower Austria) in 1966. He joined numerous expeditions to the deepest parts of the Dachstein Mammoth Cave and together with Herbert W. Franke, Heiner Thaler and other friends undertook original exploration in the adjacent Mörkhöhle.

He is remembered for his unique designs of the first satiric cave postcards and T-shirts and his collaboration on Volume 5 of the Salzburg Höhlenbuch.

For more than 15 years he investigated the epidote-site at the famous Knappenwand near Großvenediger in Salzburg. In Greece he worked in a cave containing the remains of dwarf elephants on the island of Tilos as well as in the Alistrati Cave in Greek Macedonia. His last major project was in Oman and involved the development of the Al Hoota Cave as a show cave, a project accompanied by miscellaneous scientific studies.

Robert Seemann co-operated at an international level and wrote some 180 publications. His sudden death will not only leave a big gap in the scientific community as he was the Austrian specialist for cave minerals, but many people lost a good friend as well, a cave comrade and a great character.

Text by Tony Oldham (2011). With kind permission.


12-JUL-1945 born in Wien (Vienna, Austria).
1969 certified cave guide.
08-NOV-2003 honorary citizen Alistrati, Serron, Griechenland.
20-DEC-2010 died in Wien due to a cerebral haemorrhage.