Connolly Receives 2011 N. L. Bowen Awards

James A. Connolly and Marc M. Hirschmann received the 2011 N. L. Bowen Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “out-standing contributions to volcanology, geochemistry, or petrology.”


connolly_jamesIt is an honor to introduce Jamie Connolly, winner of the 2011 N. L. Bowen Award of the AGU Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology section. The Bowen award recognizes outstanding contributions in a paper or series of papers. On this basis, Jamie is doubly worthy of this honor.

Jamie Connolly is perhaps best known for creating and maintaining PERPLE_X, a package of computer codes modestly billed as having the purpose of “calculating and displaying phase diagrams, phase equilibria and thermodynamic data.” But Jamie showed us that there is more. By including key geophysical parameters, he linked petrology with geodynamical modeling of planetary interiors. Jamie’s approach has transformed our understanding of the links between petrology, seismology, and rheology in such important environments as subduction zones and the upper mantle.

Jamie Connolly has also made fundamental contributions in a second area: crustal fluid flow. He was among the first to understand and explore crustal fluid flow via the dynamical approach of Dan McKenzie, Frank Richter, Dave Stevenson, and others, on compaction and porosity waves associated with melt production and migration. Jamie showed that fluid expulsion during metamorphism or sediment lithification is governed by deformation through a rock’s resistance to compaction. He showed that, for compacting rocks, compaction can sustain high fluid pressure and lead to solitary waves of porosity that propagate independently of the reaction that produced the fluid. His contributions provided the first truly dynamic insights into this complex process.

In working at the interface between petrology and geodynamics, Jamie Connolly has advanced both fields through fundamental and rigorous contributions that offer deep understanding of crustal and mantle processes. It is this philosophy that spurred Norman Bowen, who would surely recognize a bit of himself in so accomplished a scholar as Jamie Connolly.

Craig E. Manning, University of California, Los Angeles


Thank you, Craig, for the kind citation. I am honored to receive the Bowen Award. An award makes you ponder your own merit, so the nice thing about it is the realization that someone else has gone to the trouble of doing that for you and decided favorably. I am grateful to everyone involved in the nomination and evaluation process, and the Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology section, for allowing me to savor that realization.

How did I get here? I wish I could say I had some grand scheme, but the path I followed is better described by the word career as a verb than as a noun. I cannot thank everyone who has helped me, so I will restrict myself to three individuals who determined the main directions of my careering. The first is Derrill Kerrick, my Ph.D. advisor at Pennsylvania State University. When I arrived at Penn State I was already fascinated by phase diagrams, but I thought it was a passion that should not be admitted in public. Without Derrill I would never have come out of the closet, nor would I have learned how to water ski or calculate seismic wave speeds. The second person is Alan Thompson, my postdoctoral mentor, whose swashbuckling cross-subdisciplinary raids made me realize that petrology, geodynamics, and geophysics are intimately related. Alan and Derrill introduced me to different worlds. Fourteen years ago, Yuri Podladchikov dragged me out of my office and began teaching me how to connect those worlds. I am pleased that he has not given up on that project.

In closing, I acknowledge the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. It attracts outstanding students who have done much to educate me; and not only is it large enough that you can find the answer to any question there, but also it is large enough to tolerate my idiosyncrasies.

James A. Connolly, Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland