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In Memoriam: Ghislain de Marsily (1939-2024)


 Prof. Ghislain de Marsily (on the left) and Mr Kyriakos Kokkinos (on the right) during a Board of Trustees' Meeting at CyI, in 2015

The Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation (CREF) and The Cyprus Institute (CyI) community mourn the loss of one of its Emeritus Trustees, Ghislain de Marsily, who passed away on April 21st, 2024, in Paris.
Ghislain de Marsily, Emeritus Professor at Sorbonne University, was renowned for his seminal contributions to the field of stochastic hydrogeology and for his work as a prominent and persuasive advocate for holistic, equitable, and science-driven water management. He was a member of the French Academy of Sciences, Academy of Technologies, Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and member of the Academia Europaea.
He studied in Paris at the Ecole des Mines, graduating in 1963 as a civil mining engineer. A period with a public works company followed, as did an additional qualification as a geological engineer (1967). His first internationally significant paper (Emsellem, Y., and Marsily, G. de, ‘An automatic solution for the inverse problem’) was published in Water Resources Research in 1971.
In 1973 he was appointed to the role of Director of the Centre d'Informatique Géologique at the Ecole des Mines, and during his tenure in this position completed his PhD at the University of Pierre and Marie Curie (also known as Paris VI) in 1978.  In 1985, Prof. Ghislain de Marsily was appointed to the position of Professor of Geology at Paris VI. This heralded a new era of appointments to a variety of governance and management positions that combined his love of research with his skills as a broad thinker and communicator. These included directorship of the Applied Geology Laboratory (1987-2004), foundation director of UMR CNRS SISYPHE (1989-2000) and director of the Geosciences and Natural Resources Doctoral School (2000-2004). 
His research spanned hydrogeology, watershed management, sedimentary basin modelling, fractured rock hydrology, transport of heat and contaminants in porous/fractured media, and waste disposal. His work on inverse methods and stochastic hydrogeology were pioneering and have gone on to shape the discipline of environmental modelling well beyond a tool restricted to hydrogeology. His work continues to reverberate today.
His honours include the Prix Roubault de l'Union Française des Géologues (2000) and Prix de l'IFP de l'Académie des Sciences (2001), the O.E. Meinzer Award of the Geological Society of America (2004), the Robert E. Horton Award of the American Geophysical Union (1995), the Presidents’ Award from the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) (2010), and the Castany’s Award from the IAH French Chapter. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from universities in Canada, Switzerland and Australia, a foundation fellow of the French Academy of Technology and worked often with the United Nations.
For his services to France, academia, and science Prof. Ghislain de Marsily received numerous national distinctions, including Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite, Chevalier des Palmes académiques and Chevalier du Mérite Agricole.
Our deepest condolences are extended to his family. The Cyprus Institute and the Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation are profoundly grateful for his extraordinary character, integrity, boundless curiosity, and inspirational zest for life, as well as for his invaluable contributions to our organizations.



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