Ghiorso Receives 2014 Norman L. Bowen Award

Mark Ghiorso received 2014 Norman L. Bowen Awards at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, held 15–19 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to volcanology, geochemistry, or petrology.


Ghiorso_Mark-Bowen_Award_SIZEDMs. President, thank you. First of all, Mark, thanks for inviting me to be part of this night when we celebrate your career and the use of quantitative thermodynamic models to understand magmatic processes. It is a great pleasure to be here.

Mark is part of a generation of petrologists who worked with Ian Carmichael at Berkeley. From that amazing nursery of talent, Mark emerged as the leading force in the development of thermodynamic models of magmas and coexisting minerals. Mark proceeded to develop a comprehensive description of the phase relations between minerals and melt in magmas, an effort that took some 15 years to yield its first version. That Mark pursued this is a testament to his vision and perseverance. Albeit imperfect, MELTS allows us to rigorously model the evolution of magmas and the associated mineral and volatile assemblages. The 1995 paper alone has drawn more than 1500 citations, and altogether, Mark’s work has drawn more than 6000 citations. These are not empty metrics; they are a clear demonstration that MELTS has become part of the modus operandi of petrology and geochemistry and of the tremendous influence of his work.

But Mark is much bigger than MELTS. Mark is an incredible teacher, as you could see this morning in full display. Mark is a fabulous mentor. I cannot overstate his influence in my own career. His students include two former Bowen awardees and a Macelwane awardee, one of whom is about to also receive the Mineralogical Society of America’s Dana Medal. Such a track record of mentorship is worthy of an award by itself.

Mark has always had the clarity and vision to understand that computational thermodynamics is just a tool to address important scientific questions. From partial melting in the mid-ocean ridges, to the phase relations in the deep mantle, to the evolution of silicic magmas in the shallowest crust, Mark has been involved in work that has greatly influenced our thinking.

It could not be more fitting for Mark to receive the Bowen Award. First, Mark’s work builds directly on the legacy of experimental petrology mastered by Bowen. Secondly, Mark has been a fundamental contributor to the effort of putting such experimental work onto solid theoretical footing. Finally, Mark has managed to create the tools that allow every petrologist to perform calculations that are unfathomable to most of us. And he has done so while addressing fundamental problems in petrology and geochemistry.

I wish Mark had dedicated some of his time to the cloning business because we could use a few more copies of him. But he is not looking back at his career; he’s looking forward, creating unbelievably clever and powerful methods to address petrologic problems, as he says, at the speed of thought. We have been incredibly fortunate to have Mark devote his time and energy to petrology and geochemistry, and we can be assured of many more productive years in his career.

Members of the Volcanology, Geochemistry, and Petrology (VGP) section, it fills me with tremendous joy to call all of you to join me in congratulating Master Ghiorso as he receives a 2014 Norman L. Bowen Award.


—Guilherme A. R. Gualda, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN



It is both exhilarating and humbling to be awarded an honor named after Norman L. Bowen.  I can’t help but ask, “What would Bowen think about this choice?”  Would he be appalled, indifferent, or intrigued?  I hope that his response would be the last.

I was both an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, during the 1970s.  I went to Berkeley because it was the local school, because tuition was essentially free, and because I was fascinated as a high school student with hot springs, volcanos, and, in particular, the work of Howell Williams and Arthur L. Day.  Day was no longer living, but Williams was still alive and at Berkeley.  I got to Berkeley and began to take courses from Garnis Curtiss and Charles Gilbert and this young guy with a funny cockney accent named Ian Carmichael.  Then, as a junior I took a class from Hal Helgeson.  That changed my life because I discovered in Hal the style of scientific pursuit that I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.  I stayed at Berkeley for graduate school, deciding to work with Ian.  It has always been important to me to work with people who have a sense of humor.  Carmichael had a brilliant mind, an uncanny ability to motivate and mentor students, but most of all he had a great sense of humor.

At Berkeley my fellow graduate students included Charlie Bacon, Wes Hildreth, Frank Spera, Gail Mahood, Jim Luhr, Jon Stebbins, and Mark Rivers.  I thought it was normal to be surrounded by intellect of this caliber, and I did not realize how lucky I was.  I took courses from Leo Brewer, Ken Pitzer, and Jon Prausnitz, and I was able to hover about Helgeson as he completed his seminal synthesis of the thermodynamic properties of aqueous solutions and the rock-forming minerals.

Ian Carmichael ignited my interest in the thermodynamics of silicate melts, and he shared with and encouraged the work which has occupied me since that time. Ian introduced me to Richard Sack, from whom I learned all about the thermodynamics of solid solutions.  That was another extraordinary stroke of luck, as was working with Ed Stolper, whose generosity of spirit stands out as a high point in my career.

I want to thank the faculty at the University of Washington, where I worked for 23 years, especially my first two chairs, John Adams and Tom Dunne, for encouraging me to do what I do even if I could not get it funded.  In addition, I thank my extraordinary students Peter Kelemen and Marc Hirschmann for their gifted insights and my consummate experimental colleague Victor Kress. I have since 2005 had the great fortune of working with Guil Gualda, who introduced me this evening.  That collaboration has been so much fun that I hope it never ends.  I want to thank him for nudging me to work on silicic magmas that I never thought would be so fascinating.

It is a wonderful thing to receive the Bowen Award, and I sincerely thank the committee and the VGP membership for selecting me for this magnificent honor.

—Mark Ghiorso, OFM Research, Redman, WA