Prof. Jerzy Gustkiewicz — founder and long time supervisor of the Laboratory of Rock Deformation
Jerzy Augustyn Gustkiewicz was born on the 23rd of March 1931 in Wysoka near Zawiercie. There he finished primary school and continued his education in a state gymnasium and a prep school for boys in Zawiercie. In 1950, he passed his final exams and obtained his diploma, majoring in Mathematics and Physics. He studied at the Mining Faculty of the AGH University of Science and Technology, where in 1956 he obtained his Master's diploma of Mining Engineering. At the end of his studies Jerzy Gustkiewicz thought his knowledge of Mathematics was insufficient and, as an auditing student, he attended selected lectures and classes at the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at the Jagiellonian University.
Working as a professor Litwiniszyn's assistant MSc Gustkiewicz researched the problem of measuring the deformation of ground surface. The task he was appointed to complete by professor Litwiniszyn was to determine the deformation degree of the ground surface affected by mining operations carried out under the town of Bytom. This goal was achieved in 1963 and the results were published in his doctoral thesis, defended in the same year, called: "A study on possibilities of metric tensor measurements of ground deformations in the areas affected by underground mining operations".
Apart from his research activities PhD Gustkiewicz was also a teacher. Appointed by professor Litwiniszyn he was giving lectures and classes on continuum mechanics and fluid mechanics, and authorised by professor Stanisław Gołąb he taught Mathematics holding lectures and classes. The teaching came to an end in 1966, when Gustkiewicz PhD moved on to the Strata Mechanics Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences (IMG PAN). However, the truth be told, he never really abandoned teaching. In subsequent years (as a Professor at the Strata Mechanics Research Institute) he lectured tectonophysics at AGH or Mechanics at the University of Silesia. And he was always an excellent teacher. He offered his immense knowledge not only to his nearest colleagues but to everybody willing to benefit from it. He was able to share it in a clear, accessible and easy to follow way. As a boss he never held a grudge when something did not come off. Instead, he quietly pointed out the mistakes, explained what should be done and how so that these mistakes would not be repeated.
The fact of transferring to Polish Academy of Science basically did not change the areas of Professor Gustkiewicz's research interests. Continuing his studies on deformations he began the analysis of so-called normal curve of an arch element of the surface. This problem can be briefly recapitulated as follows: if we have a normal curve of the surface arch in a non-deformed state, and next the normal curve of the same arch in a deformed state then their difference expresses the measure of deformation of the curve on the surface, also referred to as normal flexion of this curve. Gustkiewicz proved that for a case of such curve bending on the surface that its changes in length can be disregarded, the third order tensor can be derived in the material and spatial coordinates, also referred to as the tensor of flexion of the medium, thus enabling us to find the absolute vector of flexion His post-doctoral dissertation devoted to this issue, called "Flexional ground deformations in the area affected by mining exploitation" and his scientific research earned PhD Jerzy Gustkiewicz the degree of assistant professor in the field of Technical Sciences in 1971.
A year after completing his post-doctoral degree Gustkiewicz left for a six-month internship at the Laboratory of Solid State Mechanics in L'Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. The new knowledge gained there turned Gustkiewicz's interest in a completely new direction. Namely, he started studies on mechanical properties of rocks and among his experiments conducted at that time the most interesting ones were those involved in laborious research of strain fluctuations in rocks, which were done using cylindrical rock samples compressed uniaxially in a testing machine till their strength limit. The aim of these tests was to determine the relationships between local and global response of the rock to the pressing force. The obtained results significantly contributed to the expertise in the field of uniaxial compression.
An unquestionable merit of the Professor was his incessant effort to provide the Laboratory of Rock Deformation with the most advanced research equipment. These efforts were crowned with success when the INSTRON 8500 Rock testing System machine appeared at the Laboratory.
Prof. Jerzy Augustyn Gustkiewicz died on the 8th of December 2005. For some time then we knew the situation was bad, or rather that it was getting worse daily, but subconsciously we did not want to acknowledge the worst. Unfortunately, on that day a phone call from professor's wife made us realize that it had happened — that we had lost a Boss, Teacher and Friend.
This text was published in conference materials from the 29th Winter School of Rock Mass Mechanics in 2006.