Skip to content
Startseite » Herbert W. Franke Funding for Speleologists

Herbert W. Franke Funding for Speleologists

Herbert W. Franke (right) and Robert Seemann, 1967 in the Mammoth Cave, Dachstein region, Austria.

On the occasion of its 75th anniversary, the Austrian Speleological Society VÖH is initiating a multi-year grant for research work on karst and speleological topics. The research grant was named in honor of Herbert W. Franke. His greatest scientific achievements are considered to be his cave-theoretical work on determining the age of stalagmites using the C14 method and – building on this – his research into geochronology, which he was able to carry out in the decades that followed, particularly with Mebus Geyh from the Lower Saxony Office for Soil Research. For this work, he took part in numerous expeditions, sometimes living underground for many days with research teams in order to explore unknown depths. Association President Prof. Dr. Christoph Spötl, Dean of the Faculty of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Innsbruck: “Franke is inextricably linked to cave research in the 20th century. He was significantly involved in major cave expeditions in the Alps, and he also did pioneering work on the question of how to determine the age of dripstones and whether caves exist on Mars.”

Franke’s theoretical thoughts on lava caves on Mars were first published in the 1990s. They also inspired him to write his utopian novel “Escape to Mars”, even if the Martian caves only appeared in it as a small marginal note, which his friends from the cave research community, many of whom not only read his non-fiction books on speleology but also his utopian novels, took note of with a grin.