University of Miami

Richard Von Herzen dies at 85; marine geophysicist studied plate tectonics and deep-sea ecosystems

Richard P. Von Herzen, a marine geophysicist whose pioneering work tracked the heat that flowed into the ocean from the earth's interior, died Jan. 28 in Portola Valley of vascular disease, according to his daughter, Lane Von Herzen. He was 85.

Von Herzen conducted his early research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla before moving to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod.

His work provided key evidence for the theory of plate tectonics and helped reveal the existence of deep-sea ecosystems rich in strange creatures that did not require photosynthesis to survive.

"In both cases he saw ahead of everybody else two simple...