General interest in Earth studies has a long tradition in the Czech Republic that dates back to the German physician, Georg Agricola, a pioneer in scientific classifications of minerals collected in North Bohemia's Ore Mountains during the early 16th century. Astronomy flourished during the rule of Hapsburg Emperor Rudolph II (1552–1612). Modern geophysics developed in the middle of the 18th century from systematic meteorological observations and continued in the 19th century with H. Benndorfs seismological experiment in the mining town of Pribram.
In 1920, the State Geophysical Institute was created, with Vaclav Laska as its first director. The institute's research activities concentrated on seismology and geomagnetism. In 1945, the Chair of Geophysics was established at the Charles University in Prague, reflecting the increasing interest in geophysical studies. The Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences was founded in 1952, the same year that the first Conference of Czechoslovak Geophysicists passed the resolution that an institute of geophysics should be reestablished within the new academy as the coordinating and leading institution of basic geophysical research.