Benioff, (Victor) Hugo(1899–1968) seismologist, inventor; born in Los Angeles, Calif. He was a physicist at the Carnegie Institution (1924–37) before joining the California Institute of Technology (1937–64). He devised and developed many seismic detection instruments, including a seismograph for measuring travel-time curves of earthquake waves that became the basis for the Geneva Conference nuclear detection system. He was the first to describe the plane of earthquake foci extending from Pacific Ocean trenches to the earth's shallower mantle, now known as the Benioff Zone.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.