Marcelo J. Lippmann 1939 – 2018


Marcelo J. Lippmann, a long-time fixture in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, passed away at his home in Berkeley, on September 10, 2018, after a long bout with cancer. Marcelo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1939, and received his Bachelor of Science in geology from the University of Buenos Aires in 1966. He and his wife Martha then moved to California, where Marcelo continued with his studies, earning a Master of Science in 1969 and his Ph.D. in 1974 in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley as part of Prof. Paul Witherspoon’s group.

After a short stint working at UC Berkeley, where he conducted research on numerical modeling of heat and mass transfer in geothermal systems, Marcelo moved up the hill to join Berkeley Lab in 1976, where he worked the remainder of his career. Marcelo’s expertise was in the modeling of geothermal systems, with a focus on determining their energy capacity and commercial longevity and designing sustainable exploitation strategies. Some of the systems he studied included Cerro Prieto, Mexico; Heber and The Geysers, USA; Miravalles, Costa Rica; Ahuachapán and Berlín, El Salvador. Together with Paul Witherspoon, Marcelo helped lead the Mexican-American cooperative program at the Cerro Prieto geothermal field from 1977 to 1982 and was a key member of many other international geothermal research projects.

Marcelo was in charge of LBNL’s geothermal program from 1985-2000, helping establish Berkeley Lab as a world leader in geothermal research. He authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and reports. While Marcelo officially “retired” from LBNL in 2005, he continued on as a rehired retiree until 2015, and remained active as a lab affiliate up until the time of his passing.

In addition to his contributions as a scientist, he selflessly devoted much of his energy to the international geothermal community, serving as an advisor and mentor. Marcelo was Associate Editor of the journal Geothermics from 1992-1995 and 2009-2010, and was Editor-In-Chief from 2004 to 2008; he continued to review articles to the very end. As an editor of Geothermics, he devoted countless hours helping authors polish their manuscripts. He worked tirelessly in his support of the Geothermal Resources Council, as a board member between 1999-2000 and from 2004-2009, and  later as a member of the Education, Honors and Awards, and International committees.

The Geothermal Resources Council recognized his extensive scientific achievements and contributions to the geothermal community in 2010 with the Joseph W. Aidlin award, the highest award bestowed by the Council. Marcelo was also given a special award by the Asociación Geotérmica Mexicana in 2015 for his many contributions to geothermal energy research in Mexico. He also served as a board member for the International Geothermal Association from 1993-1998.  Marcelo is well-known and admired throughout the global geothermal community for his generosity and willingness to help and his fostering of international collaboration. Those of us who knew him well will miss him dearly. He is survived by his wife Martha, his son Julian, his daughter-in-law Jessica Owley, and two granddaughters.

A celebration of life will be held at Live Oak Park Picnic Area #1 at 1301 Shattuck Avenue, in Berkeley on Saturday, October 13, from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Please visit the memorial page for Marcelo to share memories and pictures.