In Memoriam: Bruce Rosendahl


Bruce Ray Rosendahl, 66, a resident of Annapolis for 9 years, died on July 26, 2013, from multiple illnesses he battled for more than a decade.  He was previously a resident of Miami, Florida; Durham, North Carolina; La Jolla, California; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

He was born Dec. 28, 1946, in Jamestown, New York, to the late Raymond and Marjorie Rosendahl and grew up on Lake Chautauqua learning to boat, fish, and dive.  He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Susan Ellen Rosendahl, formerly Susan Andrews of New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; children Taña René Rosendahl of Jamestown, New York, and Andrew Ray Rosendahl of New York City; grandson Jameson Truitt Trusler of Jamestown, New York; sister Becky Ann Isaacson of Longmeadow, Massachusetts; nephews Paul Barbee, III, and Dan Isaacson; and mother-in-law Barbara Andrews of New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in geology and a master of science degree in geophysics from the University of Hawaii in 1970 and 1971.  He earned a doctoral degree in Earth sciences in 1976 at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego.  His Ph.D. dissertation involved the use of seismic methodology to image a zone beneath the East Pacific Rise.

Dr. Rosendahl joined the faculty at Duke University in 1976 and during his tenure of 13 years launched Project PROBE in which he and a team of scientists conducted seismic surveys of the African Great Lakes of Tanganyika, Malawi, Victoria and Turkana.  The team’s work on the research vessel Nyanja led to new understandings about continental rift zones.

Dr. Rosendahl was the dean of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami in 1989 – 1995 and professor in Marine Geology and Geophysics (MGG) until he retired Professor Emeritus in 2004.   He was the first recipient of the Lewis G. Weeks Chair in Geology.  At his request, the proceeds of the Weeks endowment were used to guarantee salaries for young faculty within MGG.

Dr. Rosendahl is the author and coauthor of several books, two seismic atlases, and more than 65 papers in scientific journals.  His volume African Rifting is a classic in the field.  Editorial roles have included membership on the board of contributors for the Miami Herald newspaper, technical editor of Sea Frontiers magazine and adviser to Time-Life Books, PBS’s NOVA series and National Geographic magazine.  His professional service has included membership on the Joint Oceanographic Institution’s board of governors, executive committee of JOIDES, Southern Association of Marine Laboratories, Council on Ocean Affairs, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Interunion Commission on Lithosphere, Marine Geology Committee of the American Association for Petroleum Geologists and International Litho-sphere Program.  He was a trustee for the Miami Museum of Science and served on the board of directors for the Miami Marine Council and the Maritime and Science Technology Academy.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, August 25, 2:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 171 Duke of Gloucester Street in Annapolis, Maryland.  The family will bring him home to Lake Chautauqua in October.   Online condolences may be made at

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Dr. Rosendahl’s memory to the The Key School in Annapolis, Maryland, which will be designated to the School’s endowment in support of science education and to the CHUMS Program (global partnership with Somers Park Primary School in England and Chumbageni Primary School in Tanzania, Africa).

(Submitted by T. H. Dixon, Dept. of Geology, University of South Florida)

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