Professor Don L Anderson 1933-2014

Professor Don L Anderson 1933-2014

Postby salsinawi » Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:39 pm

Don L Anderson
Don Lynn Anderson,Professor Emeritus of Geophysics at the California
Institute of Technology, passed away peacefully at his
home in Cambria, California,2nd December, 2014,aged82.

Don was born March 5, 1933 at Frederick, Maryland. He
worked for most of his career at the California Institute
of Technology, where he gained his Ph.D. degree under
the tutelage of Frank Press. In turn, Don advised
numerous graduate students of his own, many of whom went on to become eminent in their fields.

Among Don’s many leadership roles were Director of
the Seismological Laboratory, Caltech, from 1967-1989, principal investigator on the
1971 Viking mission to Mars, and Presidentof the American Geophysical Union.

He was honored with numerous awards including
the Crafoord Prize(1998, with Adam Dziewonski), the
National Medal of Science (1998), the Bowie Medal of
the American Geophysical Union (1991), the Gold
Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1988), the
Arthur L. Day Gold Medal of the Geological Society of
America (1987), the Emil Wiechert Medal of the German
Geophysical Society (1986), and the NASA Exceptional
Scientific Achievement Medal (1977).
He held Fellowships of the American Philosophical Society
(1990), the American Association for the Advancement
of Science (1988), the National Academy of Sciences
(1982), and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1972).

In a career spanningmore than half a century, Don made pioneering contributions to understanding the large-scale structure of the Earth,
taking on undaunted anisotropy, anelasticty, asphericity and anharmonicity. One of his great strengths was integration ofphysics,
thermodynamics, petrology and geochemistry. He investigated the behaviour of mantle materials at high pressures and temperatures,
the phase transformations of mantle minerals, and the generation of
He and his colleagues developed the theory of wave
propagation in complex mediaand he introduced the
term “tomography” into seismology. He made major
contributions to understanding plate-tectonic motions
and convection in the Earth’s mantle. In collaboration
with Adam Dziewonskihe developedthe Preliminary
Reference Earth Model (PREM), a cornerstone of
modern global geophysics.In the latter part of his career,
Don becamemost famous for ideas that depart from conventional wisdom
,but which he felt are more consistent with thermodynamics
and classical physics. He challenged standard
geochemical and evolutionary models for the Earth, and
presented alternative theoriesfor the mineralogical and
isotopic composition of the mantle. He viewed the Earth
as being chemically stratified into layers, the deeper
ones being refractory, convecting sluggishly, and having
essentially no direct involvement with surface
He considered the mid-mantle to be pyroxene-and garnet-rich, not composed of olivine-dominated peridotite
. These ideas led him to challenge the hypothesis of deep-mantle plumes, convective upwellings that are widely assumed to explain volcanic oceanic islands such as Hawaiiand Iceland. Instead, he considered such volcanism to be fed from the shallow
mantle through extensionalfissures induced by plate
tectonics. Don considered plate tectonics to be a natural
result of a planet cooled from above, and for essentially
all volcanism on Earth to result from this process.
I first met Don at the AGU Fall Meeting in 1999. After that,
life was never the same again. Don had discovered
that email made the world one big Department.
He loved the Internet and embraced it with huge enthusiasm,
supporting and contributing to his favourite site http://www.m He devoted countless hours to
mentoring young scientists the world over, some of whom
were never destined to meet him. He inspired
numerous papers, projects and collaborations with his
startling ideas, radical challenges, and in
fectious out-of-the-box thinking. And he couldn’t hidethe fact
that he loved every minute of it.

Don bequeathed to his colleagues a commitment to the
total, unrestricted and free sharing of resources, leading
from the front by example. In the last months of his life,
when he knew he would soon have to shut his laptop
down for the last time, he worked tirelessly to finish his papers in
progress and to make free and unrestricted
to everybody his legacy to science.

This includes over 300 published papers, his books Theory of the Earth and -9-
New Theory of the Earth, videos, web pages, blogs,
hundreds of presentation slides and his tongue-in-cheek
metaphorical voyage into minds and planets What
Planet Do You Live On Anyway? All this is available
unrestrictedfrom his personal resources webpage at The many details of
his extraordinary life and career that are absent from
this brief tribute are accessible from his Wikipedia page

at :

Gillian R. Foulger
12thDecember, 2014
Anton M Dainty
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