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February 09, 2016

Tarduno to receive Royal Astronomical Society medal

John Tarduno
John Tarduno

The Royal Astronomical Society, based in London, has named geophysicist John Tarduno the winner of this year’s Price Medal for “investigations of outstanding merit in solid-earth geophysics, oceanography, or planetary sciences.” Tarduno is professor of geophysics and a professor of physics and astronomy.

In her written nomination, Carmala Garzione, chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, wrote that Tarduno’s work “changed the way that geologists teach about plate motions in introductory geology classes.”

Tarduno is being honored for his work involving the motion of volcanic hotspots in Earth’s mantle. Hotspots are areas of melting created when hot plumes rise to the surface from deep within Earth, near the core-mantle boundary. When hotspots are located in oceans, the rising plumes can result in island chains, like the Hawaiian Islands. Tarduno’s research focused specifically on whether the Hawaiian hotspot had always been at a fixed location. By studying a set of deep-sea basalt cores, Tarduno determined that the Hawaiian hotspot had once been about 1500 kilometers north of its present day position. This suggested that some islands and seamounts could form by moving hotspots, not moving plates. The results were published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters in 1997.

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