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 Published by the American Geological Institute
January 2001
Newsmagazine of the Earth Sciences

Web Extra:   Jan. 30, 2001
Dartmouth Professors Murdered

Economic geologist and his wife found dead

Jan. 29 — Dartmouth College and news wires have reported that Dartmouth professors Half and Susanne Zantop were found dead at their home in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday night.

 “We are treating these deaths as homicides,” Attorney General Philip McLaughlin said at a Sunday press conference. In a press conference today, Kelly Ayotte, head of the attorney general's homicide division, said that 30 investigators were working the case.

The two professors were an integral part of the college community. Half Zantop joined the faculty of the Dartmouth Earth Sciences Department in 1976. He specialized in economic geology and was a member of the Society of Economic Geologists. Susanne Zantop, who joined the faculty in 1982, was the Parents’ Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities and chaired the German Studies Program since 1996.

“We are profoundly shocked and saddened by the deaths of Susanne and Half Zantop,” wrote Dartmouth President James Wright in a news release on Sunday. “The Zantops were loved and respected by faculty and students alike.”

The Associated Press and Reuters news wires have reported that the police were notified after a Dartmouth languages instructor visited the Zantops on Saturday evening and found their house unlocked and their bodies inside.

News of the event spread to students, faculty and the Zantops' friends by e-mail. “I was horrified to hear of it,” said Dartmouth alum Thomas Loucks, treasurer of the Society of Economic Geologists and a friend of Half Zantop for more than 25 years. “I know he was loved and respected by his students and even the ‘recent grads’ like myself who got out in the early 1970s just before his arrival at Dartmouth.”

Susanne and Half were both born in Germany in 1945 and 1938, respectively. Half attended high school in Barcelona, Spain, before receiving his degree in geology from the Freiburg University in Germany. He also studied at Washington State University and earned his doctorate in 1969 from the Stanford School of Earth Sciences.

Half Zantop spoke fluent Spanish and was adept at finding thesis topics and research projects for his students in Mexico and Latin America. On his Dartmouth Web page, he wrote: “I try to cover both the geological and the social aspects in my academic pursuits.”

Loucks remembered that Half Zantop was responsible in the late 1960s or early 1970s for pointing out that the “Chilean ore deposits did not stop at the Argentina border.”

The Zantops were known for their hospitality and open doors. “I can well imagine that the stories in the press — about his having an open house and open heart to the students in Hanover — are all true, for it certainly fits what I knew of him,” Loucks said.

Christina Reed

Did you know the Zantops or work with Half Zantop? Share your stories with Geotimes.


A statement by Dartmouth president James Wright:

Half Zantop’s home page:

Susanne Zantop’s home page

Additional reports:

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