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In Memoriam

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Fara N. Lindsay (1961-2017)

Fara Lindsay, an astute petrologist, inspiring teacher, and talented dancer, died on June 14, 2017 from cancer. A native of Bayonne, NJ, she received a B.A. from SUNY, Brockport in 1983 with a concentration in movement analysis and went on to dance professionally with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and in Europe with the Broadway Musical Company. In the late 1990s, she returned to the academy, enrolling at Rutgers University, New Brunswick where she earned a second bachelor’s degree -- a B.S. this time, with a double major in Chemistry and Geology -- and then in 2009 a Ph.D. under the direction of volcanologist Michael J. Carr (

From 2009 through 2017 Fara did research on extraterrestrial materials with our group at Rutgers, where she was a superb mentor for undergraduates. She was equally at home with the electron microprobe, the petrographic microscope, or a centrifuge tube, although given her ‘druthers she’d always choose the probe. She brought her considerable skills to bear on problems related to the Moon, meteorites, and micrometeorites. Her main focus was 40Ar/39Ar dating of microsamples of meteorites, by means of which she examined a rich chronological landscape not readily accessible from analyses of bulk materials or mineral separates. A study of the achondrite GRA 06128,9 showed how the intrusion of a glass vein could reset the argon clock (Lindsay et al., 2014); the ages of certain grains from the Kapoeta howardite suggested that the RheaSilvia basin on Vesta formed late (Lindsay et al., 2015a); the variability of Chelyabinsk (LL5) ages provided a graphic chronometric demonstration of the heterogeneity of shock effects (Lindsay et al., 2015b); and the diverse ages recorded by the martian breccia NWA 7034 include a dominant signal at 1.4 Ga (Lindsay et al., 2016).

In 2016 Fara joined the MoonDB program at Lamont-Doherty Geological Laboratories with Kerstin Lehnert.

As part of a personal statement in 2011, Fara wrote:
My great uncle left his rock and mineral collection to me in his will.  I was 10 at the time and had no understanding of rock type or mineralogy, but sensibly sorted them into shiny and pretty, shiny, those that glowed under black light and those that were just okay.  With a few basic books form the library, I made several identifications, but many objects remained a mystery to me.  After high school, my uncle’s collection was forgotten while I embarked upon a career in the arts.  Yet even then, my fascination with all things sparkly remained kindled by reading books detailing ancient and historic uses of minerals and stones, and working at the jewelry counter of a department store.  I kept the rock and mineral collection with me across Europe until I returned to college.

Fara leaves behind many friends among whom we are glad to count ourselves. The echo of her laughter resonates in the halls of Rutgers Geology Department.

Gail Ashley
Jerry Delaney
Gregory Herzog
Jisun Park
Carl Swisher
Brent Turrin

12:19 | Obituary

Winners of the Pellas-Ryder Award for 2017

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The Paul Pellas - Graham Ryder Award for the best student paper in planetary sciences is administered jointly by the Meteoritical Society and the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America. It is given to the graduate or undergraduate student who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, the Meteoritical Society Council, and the Management Board of the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America, submitted as first author the best planetary science paper published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal during the previous year.

For 2017 the Award has been given to two students with equally outstanding papers, Gerit Budde and James Keane.

Gerit Budde (left), James Keane (right)

Gerrit Budde, a PhD student at the Wilhelms-Universität Münster Germany, is jointly awarded the 2017 Pellas-Ryder award for his paper 'Tungsten isotopic constraints on the age and origin of chondrules', published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016. The paper presents fundamental new insights into the origin of chondrules, through the discovery of complementary nucleosynthetic tungsten (W) isotope anomalies in chondrule and co-existing matrix.

James Keane, PhD student at the University of Arizona, is jointly awarded the 2017 Pellas-Ryder award for his paper 'Reorientation and faulting of Pluto due to volatile loading within Sputnik Planitia' published in Nature in 2016. The research tests the hypothesis that the Sputnik Planitia impact basin region of Pluto has been infilled over millions of years by volatile ices, driving the reorientation of Pluto. Outcomes of the study indicate that there was feedback between the planet’s volatile cycle and rotational stability. The paper is an outstanding study utilizing newly available data from the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto.

2016 McKay and Wiley Award Recipients

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The Gordon A. McKay Award

 The McKay award honors the memory of Gordon A. McKay. The award is given each year to the student who gives the best oral presentation at the annual meeting of the Society. This year’s award is given to Danielle N. Simkus (University of Alberta) for her presentation "Compound-specific carbon isotope compositions of aldehydes and ketones in the Tagish Lake meteorite".

The Wiley Award

Sponsored by the publisher of Meteoritics and Planetary Science, four Wiley Awards are given each year for outstanding oral presentations by students at the Annual Meeting. This year’s awardees are Kelly. E. Miller (University of Arizona) for the presentation "Copper sulfides in the R chondrites: evidence of hydrothermal alteration in low petrologic types", Sheryl Singerling (University of New Mexico) for the presentation "Synchrotron x-ray fluorescence analysis of trace elements in focused ion beam prepared sections of carbonaceous chondrite iron sulfides (CM and CR) and associated metal (CR)", Timo Hopp (University of Münster) for the presentation "Ruthenium isotope fractionation during crystallization of planetesimal cores" and Gavin G. Kenny (Trinity College, Dublin) for the presentation "Impact crater environments as potential sources of Hadean detrital zircons".

Wiley Award recipients (from left) Kelly. E. Miller, Sheryl Singerling, Timo Hopp and Gavin G. Kenny

15:12 | News

In Memoriam

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Andrei Valerievich Ivanov
September 20, 1937 - July 7, 2016

      On July 7, 2016, Andrei Valerievich Ivanov passed away after a struggle with cancer.  Andrei was our friend and colleague, a distinguished scientist, Doctor of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences, member of the Meteoritical Society, and a leading researcher at the Vernadsky Institute’s Laboratory of Meteoritics.

     Andrei Valerievich graduated from the Department of Geochemistry of the Geology Faculty of Moscow State University (MGU) in 1960.  He joined the Laboratory of Isotope Geochemistry at the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry (GEOKHI) in 1962, and worked there for eight years.  From 1969-75, Dr. Ivanov worked at the USSR Institute for Space Research (IKI), then returned to the Vernadsky Institute in 1975 and remained there throughout his further career.

     Andrei's scientific career focused on investigations of extraterrestrial materials.  His work on fine-grained (10+ micron) spherical deposits of probable extraterrestrial origin, found in peat and salt deposits from the region of the Tunguska explosion, were widely known.  Beginning in the late 1960s, Andrei was a major participant in the receiving and study of the first lunar samples returned to Earth by the Soviet robot moon landers.  He told wonderful stories of opening the sample-return capsules in the vacuum glove chamber, and seeing the lunar soil emerge before his eyes.

     Andrei's lunar research focused on the effects of space environmental factors on the formation conditions of the lunar regolith.  In 1971 this became the foundation of one of his major scientific reports, "Anti-oxidative properties of ultradispersed, simple materials on the surfaces of extraterrestrial bodies."

     Andrei Valerievich committed nearly 30 years to the study of the unique Kaidun meteorite.  Through his investigations, he identified new types of meteorite material and discovered a series of new mineral phases, including the new mineral florenskyite, an unusual phosphide (FeTiP) found in Kaidun.  Andrei’s colleagues later identified an even rarer isomorph (FeCrP) and named it andreyivanovite in his honor.  Andrei’s studies were the first to find traces of fluid metasomatic changes in the components of Kaidun.  Andrei defended his Doctoral dissertation in 2003 based on his work with the Kaidun meteorite.

     Dr. Ivanov was the author of over 200 scientific publications, and in 1977 was awarded the USSR's Medal "For Labor Valor."

     The asteroid 5761 Andreivanov was named in Andrei's honor.  It orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter with a closest approach (perihelion) of 1.8 astronomical units (AU), aphelion of 2.7 AU, eccentricity of 0.35, inclined at 9.2 degrees to the plane of the ecliptic.  It orbits the Sun every 4.5 years and has a rotation period of 11.7 hours.  Its composition is currently unknown.

     In recent years, Andrei Valerievich worked on systematizing and cataloging the Vernadsky Institute's collection of lunar samples.  He saw this as his personal duty to future generations of lunar investigators.

     Andrei's passing is an irreplaceable loss for the Laboratory of Meteoritics and the whole Vernadsky Institute.  His personality naturally combined professionalism, broad interests, highest ethics and openness to people.  All of us could always count on his kind words, advice and help!  His wisdom in life and broad knowledge were always available.  Dear Andrei, we will miss you!

     Friends and colleagues from Vernadsky Institute.

Andrei on an Antarctic meteorite expedition, 1980-1981.
16:33 | Obituary

In Memoriam

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Gerald J. Wasserburg, 1927-2016

     Gerald J. Wasserburg (aka Jerry) passed away on June 13, at the age of 89. Jerry Wasserburg was an icon (better: a giant) in the meteoritics and planetary science community, a relentless figure in the Apollo Program and influential in the field of isotope geochemistry. He served as President of The Society (1987-1988) and was awarded the Society’s Leonard Medal in 1975. At the time of his death, he was the John D. MacArthur Professor of Geology and Geophysics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology.

     Jerry Wasserburg was born in New Brunswick, NJ, in 1927. He served in the army during World War II by lying about his age. After his service in the military, he earned his high school degree, and enrolled in college at Rutgers University. With Henri Bader as his advisor and mentor at Rutgers, he transferred to University of Chicago, where he earned a B.Sc. degree in Physics in 1951 and an M.Sc. in Geology, in 1952.  He got a job running a mass spectrometer in Harold Urey's lab and in 1954 earned a Ph.D. with a thesis on a new technique of potassium-argon dating under the guidance of Harold Urey and Mark Inghram, at the University of Chicago. After a year as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Chicago, he joined the faculty at the California Institute of Technology, as an Assistant Professor in Geology and Geophysics, promoted to full Professor in 1962, and appointed the John D. MacArthur Professor of Geology and Geophysics in 1982. He retired in 2001, but remained active, incisive, and in the forefront, until the very end, with a paper in press, at the time of his death.

     Jerry Wasserburg's research spans a wide range of topics including Earth's interior, dating Apollo lunar samples, dating the early Solar System, isotopic studies of pre-solar grains and making major contributions to developing the 40K-40Ar, U-Pb, 87Rb-87Sr, 234U-230Th, 40K-39Ar, 187Re-187Os and 147Sm-143Nd systems. He pioneered the precise isotopic measurements of ultra-small samples under strict clean room conditions with minimal contamination. He developed the first fully digital mass spectrometer with computer controlled magnetic field scanning and rapid switching, which was absolutely necessary for the work on the returned Apollo samples, both for dating and for the pioneering work on Gd, for addressing secondary neutron capture in lunar samples and the stratigraphy of the upper meters of the lunar regolith and rocks.  His work with Typhoon Lee and Dimitri Papanastassiou led to the discovery of the presence of short-lived radionuclide 26Al in the early solar system and the discovery of short-lived 107Pd with William R. Kelly. Wasserburg made major contributions to the study of refractory inclusions in the Allende CV chondrite. He actually collected some samples himself from the Allende strewn field (1969) and received some Allende stones from Al Burlingame (UCSF).  Some of his work led to discovery of refractory inclusions in Allende with unusual, correlated isotopic properties in magnesium and oxygen and in a slew of other elements (Ca, Ti, Cr, Fe, Sr, Ba, Nd, Sm) indicating a combination of isotope fractionation and unknown nuclear effects, dubbed as FUN inclusions.

     Jerry Wasserburg received numerous Awards and honors during his career. He was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (1972), the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. He received the Arthur L. Day Medal in 1970, the Wollaston Medal in 1985, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1991 and the Bowie Medal in 2008. The work on Sr-Nd isotope correlations on terrestrial basalts culminated in the award of the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences, by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1986 (co-recipient with C. J. Allègre). He was the recipient of several honorary degrees. He received the J. F. Kemp Medal with Paul Gast in 1973, the Harry H. Hess Medal of the American Geophysical Union in 1985,the J. Lawrence Smith Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1985, the Arthur L. Day Prize & Lectureship of the National Academy of Science 1981, the Holmes Medal of the European Union of Geosciences in 1986 and the V. M. Goldschmidt Medal of the Geochemical Society in 1978.

     He was particularly appreciative of the awards to him of NASA Distinguished Public Service Medals in 1972 and in 1978 (with cluster), to reflect his many years of trying to introduce science (and science funding) into the Apollo Program. Along with Jim Arnold, Bob Walker and Paul Gast (The Four Horsemen) his efforts were instrumental in President Nixon reinstating two (Apollo 16 and Apollo 17) of the four Apollo J missions, which Nixon had originally canceled. Jerry was also instrumental in convincing NASA of the need to build a safer and cleaner Lunar Curatorial Facility, at JSC, to replace the LRL (the original Lunar Receiving Laboratory) and a Remote Lunar Facility (originally in San Antonio, at the Brooks Air Force Base). He was successful, despite Sen. Proxmire's Golden Fleece Award to NASA for these efforts. Jerry was also instrumental in seeking continued funding of the work on lunar samples, well past the last Apollo mission.

     He will be remembered as a key and critical contributor at the LSC and then LPSC meetings, in Houston and for pursuing science with impeccable taste and innovation. He will also be remembered as a relentless competitor in science and also as an educator and mentor of generations of scientists in geochemistry, cosmochemistry and nuclear astrophysics. 
13:56 | Obituary