On the Passing of Former Harry Hess Faculty Fellow Dr. Chris Hartnady and wife, Rowena Hay

Thursday, Aug 5, 2021

With great sadness, the Department of Geosciences has learned of the passing of former Harry Hess Faculty Fellow Dr. Chris Hartnady and wife, Rowena Hay.

Tragically, Rowena Hay passed on Thursday 8th July, 2021, and Dr. Hartnady 15 days later on Friday, 23rd July, from complications due to Covid-19.  Rowena was a geologist/hydrologist who graduated from the University of Capetown in 1984 and went on to found Umvoto Africa, a groundwater consultancy, and was its director up to her passing. She is internationally recognized for promoting women in science and engineering. Recently, she created the Umvoto Foundation from her work for the United Nations to create sustainable solutions for community development. Chris earned his Ph.D. in geology in 1978 from the University of Capetown, where he was Senior Research Officer in the Chamber of Mines Precambrian Research Unit (1974-1987) and later Associate Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences (1987-2000). He then joined Umvoto Africa as the technical director, a position he held until his passing. He is internationally recognized for his research on the structural geology and tectonics of southern and eastern Africa. Together, Chris and Rowena are renowned for their research in the deep fractured aquifer systems of the Table Mountain Group, South Africa. They both pioneered the use of remote sensing, geothermal, space-geodetic and hydroseismic studies of these unique fractured aquifers. 

Prof. Tullis Onstott fondly remembers time spent with Chris in Namaqualand in 1987; and when Chris spent a sabbatical year as a Harry Hess faculty fellow back in the early 90s while teaching a graduate course on Gondwana tectonics. In 2015, Chris and Rowena graciously hosted Dr. Rachel Harris *20 and Prof. Maggie Lau during a microbial investigation of hot springs in the Western Cape. 

Our deepest condolences to their children Mike Hartnady, a geologist, and Ruth Hartnady, a virologist at the University of Capetown and other members of the Hartnady and Hay families.

Any condolences can be sent through to Umvoto Africa at amanzi@umvoto.com, as referred to on their tribute web pages.