Pembroke J. Hart

2006 Edward A. Flinn III Award Winner

Pembroke J. Hart received the Edward A. Flinn III Award on 25 May 2006 during the Honors Ceremony at the 2006 Joint Assembly in Baltimore, Md. The award honors individuals who personify AGU’s motto of “unselfish cooperation in research” through their facilitating, coordinating, and implementing of activities.


A few years after completing his doctorate at Harvard University [Cambridge, Mass.], Pembroke Hart joined the staff of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC) U.S. Committee for the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year (IGY). He embarked on a highly productive career of more than 30 years of staff support for major initiatives in the geophysical sciences within the NAS/NRC.

During those years, Hart played an important role in the following:

  • Preparing a monograph, sponsored by the International Upper Mantle Committee, on the current state of knowledge about the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. The book was published by AGU and was reprinted twice. It was by far the most successful of the AGU monographs of its time.
  • Coordinating data exchange through the World Data Center (WDC) System and supporting the work of the International Council for Science (ICSU) Panel on WDCs in the following years.
  • Preparing the final report in the series of IGY annals presenting the results of the IGY.
  • Coordinating with boards and committees in the NAS/NRC system to continue to carry out the basic research activities of the IGY (space science, polar research, ocean science, atmospheric science, solar-terrestrial physics, and geophysics).
  • Activating the bodies within the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) to carry forward IGY-inspired programs (notably, the International Year of the Quiet Sun in 1964-1965) and the Upper Mantle Project (UMP) in 1962-1970 and its successor programs in Geodynamics and the Lithosphere and their U.S. counterparts, as well as Geophysics Research Board activities such as the series of studies on the interaction between geophysics and society.

The success of the Upper Mantle Project prompted the initiation in 1970 of the International Geodynamics Project. Soon, a U.S. Geodynamics Committee was created within NAS/NRC. Charles Drake and Hart were prime movers. The success of the Geodynamics activities led, in turn, to establishment in 1980 of the Inter-Union Commission on the Lithosphere (ICL). Hart was invited to be the secretary general. His diverse responsibilities in NAS/NRC bodies precluded accepting this appointment, but Hart worked closely with Edward Flinn whom he had proposed for that position.

In 1991, Hart was uniquely honored by his election as a Lifetime Member of the ICSU Panel on World Data Centers, and in 1995 by election as a Lifetime Member of the International Commission on the Lithosphere.

The World Data Center System has been hailed as one of the hallmarks of IGY’s success. Hart should take considerable credit for this. His contributions to the IGY were recognized in 1963 by naming a geographic feature in the Antarctic ‘Hart Hills.’

Through my involvement in several NAS/NRC committees, I was able to observe Hart’s remarkable effectiveness in supporting the wide-ranging global activities of those committees. Others got the credit that Hart deserves, because he encouraged them to run with his ideas. He would give me and others quiet and modest instruction listing the problem, and its detailed history, and then he would suggest a plan of action. I often tried to get Hart to give his idea to the pertinent committee, but he always demurred.

He epitomizes “unselfish cooperation in research.” He should take considerable credit for several special activities, for example, the Continental Scientific Drilling Program and the concept of transects using multidisciplinary data. Both examples and others soon became part of the international programs.

Hart learned the importance of international, interdisciplinary cooperation early. This permeated the committees he has worked with and can be seen in their written products. Hart has been very much an unsung hero. I am very pleased to see him getting some of the credit he deserves.

—ROBIN BRETT, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Va.


It is a great honor to receive the Edward A. Flinn III Award of the American Geophysical Union.

AGU introduced me to the concept of “unselfish cooperation in research” in 1952. Five years later, the International Geophysical Year (IGY, 1957-1958) introduced me to an international program of cooperation in research.

The IGY was envisioned by a small group of AGU members. This well-designed program was remarkably successful in those early years of the cold war. Scientific cooperation was possible across frontiers that were otherwise significantly restricted. The impact of the IGY on design of future programs-they came to be called daughter programs of IGY-was immediate. The impact on AGU began during IGY and has been felt ever since.

In the following years, I became involved in a range of international geophysical programs especially in the solid Earth (International Upper Mantle Project, International Geodynamics Project, International Lithosphere Program), and in solar-terrestrial programs and the World Data Centers.

At this meeting of AGU, a session entitled “International Science Years on the Fiftieth Anniversary of IGY” has the following description: “Four international geoscience years, each focusing on a major facet of the IGY activities, are taking place around the time of the 50th Anniversary of the IGY: the International Polar Year (2007-2009), the International Year of Planet Earth (2007-2009), the International Heliophysical Year (2007-2008), and the Electronic Geophysical Year (2007-2008).”

Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Those who designed the IGY were giants. They designed a program based on science that included what could be called a platform-this includes what we now call infrastructure-to enable the whole geophysical community to see farther. I am pleased to have had a role in making that platform more useful and effective for IGY and subsequent programs.

Edward Flinn himself was among those that I was able to help in a specific way. In 1980, I proposed him as the first secretary general of the International Commission on the Lithosphere, created by the International Union on Geodesy and Geophysics and the International Union of Geological Sciences to guide the International Lithosphere Program. He agreed to accept this appointment if I could arrange backup support (i.e., infrastructure) analogous to arrangements I had made for the international secretariats of the Upper Mantle Project, Solar-Terrestrial Physics, and World Data Centers. I was able to do that for the Lithosphere Program. Flinn served outstandingly.

I thank those who proposed me for this award. Then I look back, and thank those who provided guidance and leadership over the years, in particular, Merle Tuve, Charles Drake, Thomas Malone, Philip Abelson, Robin Brett, Herbert Friedman, William Hinze, Leon Knopoff, Jack Oliver, Frank Richter, Alan Shapley, and Ferris Webster. Also, I note the important role of three members of the staff of the US-IGY program: Hugh Odishaw, Phillip Mange, and Stanley Ruttenberg. I trust that many others who generously helped will graciously understand that they are among many.

I also wish to acknowledge the important help over the years of my wife, Grace.

—PEMBROKE J. HART, Washington, D.C.