In 1941 the ”Institut für Gewässerkunde” (Institute for Hydrology) at the ETH in Zurich (led by Prof. O. Lütschg (PDF, 43 KB)) was moved to the VAW and renamed the ”Abteilung für Hydrologie” (with Dr. E. Hoeck (PDF, 43 KB) as head, 1941 to 1951).
During the planning stages for large hydraulic dams in the Swiss Alps in the 1950s and ’60s, a number of glacier-related issues had to be taken into consideration. It was during this period that glaciological investigations became an important focus of the work being done at the former Section for Hydrology at VAW/ETH Zurich (headed by Prof. P. Kasser (PDF, 62 KB), 1951 to 1979). For this reason the Hydrology Section was renamed “Abteilung für Hydrologie und Glaziologie” in 1961.
Because hydro-electric power plants and tourist facilities were increasingly being constructed in zones previously avoided, glacier hazard assessment considerations gained very much in importance at the former Section for Hydrology and Glaciology at VAW/ETH. This was clearly demonstrated after the occurrence of the Allalingletscher ice avalanche in 1965, which destroyed the construction site of the Mattmark hydraulic dam and claimed 88 victims.
Glaciology at VAW/ETH Zurich won international scientific recognition in 1973 for the new theory (PDF, 1.8 MB) on water flow in intra- and subglacial channels put forth by Hans Röthlisberger (PDF, 94 KB). In the following years this group at the VAW published outstanding scientific contributions in glacier hydrology and glacier mechanics.
As a direct result of the growing importance of glaciological issues, the Section for Glaciology at VAW (VAW/Glaciology) was established in 1979 (headed by Prof. H. Röthlisberger, 1979 to 1988).