Retired Navy Capt. Paul S. Bauer, 72, a scientist, businessman, teacher and government adviser who made a special study of the volcanic island Surtsey, died of cancer Sunday at Georgetown University Hospital.

A specialist in geophysics and oceanography, Capt. Bauer was serving as a professor at American University when he studied Surtsey, a volcanic island that rose from the sea south of Iceland in 1963.

"Volcano Surtsey," a film produced by Capt. Bauer won several awards for excellence.

Capt. Bauer had also several on advisory commissions on aeronautics and fish and game in his native Masschusetts, and as a scientific consultant to the House of Representatives Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries.During the Johnson administration he was a consultant to the National Council of Marine Resources and Engineering Development.

Born in Lynn, Mass., Capt. Bauer received bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from Harvard, and was attending Boston Law School when he accepted a Navy commission in World War II.

During his 11 years of service, he was a navigation officer in Project Deepfreeze I and spent three months in Antarctica. He retired from the Navy in 1957.

As a businessman he organized and served as an officer of several corporations including Pine Tree Airways, Schooner Columbia, Inc., and New England Electronics Corp.

He held several patents for electronics inventions and was a member of the Cosmos Club and several scientific and professional societies.

In addition to his wife, Winifred, of the home in Washington, survivors include five children, Paul S. Jr., of Dayton, Ohio, Elizabeth Haviland, of Ames, Iowa, Robert S., of Marina del Rey, Calif., and Karen Greene and Ralph S., both of Washington, and 15 grandchildren.

The family suggests that any expressions of sympathy be in the form of donations to Westmoreland Congregational Church here.