Gerardo Iturrino, a longtime engineer and ocean explorer at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, passed away unexpectedly on March 12. A resident of nearby Nyack, he was 51; the cause was heart attack, said his family.
“Gerry,” as everyone knew him, was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. He studied in France, and later at Purdue University and the University of Miami, where he earned his PhD. from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. His incessant curiosity about the structure and origin of the Earth drove his career, the last 18 years of which he spent as a researcher at Lamont. During his time there, he participated in 16 deep-sea expeditions, most of them aboard the JOIDES Resolution, the flagship vessel of the International Ocean Discovery Program, which drills cores from ocean floors around the world.
These voyages took him to such destinations as the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the western North America coast; the East Pacific Rise; the Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge; and the Shatsky Rise in the northwest Pacific Ocean. From 2006-2009, Gerry played a pivotal role in helping supervise the refurbishment and modernization of the Resolution.
Among his many professional accomplishments, Gerry at different times managed both the Science Services and Engineering divisions at Lamont’s Borehole Research Group. He authored or coauthored dozens of scientific publications, on topics including the deep biosphere, sub-seafloor hydrothermal fields and the structure of earth’s crust. Most recently, he led a multi-institutional project to use more versatile drilling equipment aboard the Resolution, and expand the ship’s capabilities. He was also instrumental in bringing earth science to schools and the general public. From 2004-2006, he served as principal investigator of the Earth2Class program, an acclaimed collaboration of scientists, teachers and technicians dedicated to promoting scientific literacy and education.
Gerry also enjoyed traveling for pleasure, especially when it might involve scuba diving, snorkeling with his daughter, Sierra, in Puerto Rico, biking with his friends, sailing, or, most recently, skiing. But, as his friends knew, by far his greatest joy came from his devotion to Sierra.
Gerry was preceded in death by his father, Jose Iturrino. In addition to Sierra, he is survived by his mother, Noemi Archilla Iturrino; his wife of 16 years, Diana Cutt; his sister Ivonne Iturrino Alemany; his brother Angel Luis Iturrino; and his nieces and nephew, Melissa, Melanie and Matthew.
His family has created a website that has a page for posting condolences, photos, or personal reminiscences. In lieu of flowers, they ask that donations be made online to the Sierra Iturrino Scholarship Fund, or care of the Hannemann Funeral Home, Inc. 88 South Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960