University of Rochester

Geophysicist Elected Fellow of American Geophysical Union

March 1, 2007

The American Geophysical Union has chosen geophysicist John A. Tarduno, an expert in the history of Earth's magnetic field, as a 2007 Fellow. Tarduno is professor of geophysics in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and professor of physics and astronomy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester.

Each year, the American Geophysical Union chooses no more than 0.1 percent of its 48,000 members Fellows. "I'm honored to have received this recognition," said Tarduno. "It's really an honor for the group—my students and our paleomagnetism research group."

In naming Tarduno a Fellow, the organization cited innovative contributions to the determination of geomagnetic paleointensity and the motion of Pacific hotspots. His celebrated research in the history of the Earth's magnetic field helps in understanding motion of tectonic plates and the stability of hotspots in the Earth's mantle.

Tarduno's research and innovative techniques evolved around what he saw as the opportunity to understand Earth's history by studying magnetic minerals within rocks. "When a rock forms, it locks in a record of Earth's magnetic field," said Tarduno. He unlocks secrets of the magnetic field to learn about the planet's formation, deciphering clues from core to crust.

Needing specialized tools, Tarduno established the Paleomagnetic Laboratory at the University of Rochester. His team developed techniques for extracting information from crystals that contain nanometer-sized magnetic particles. They found that studying crystals, instead of whole rocks, offers better resolution and makes it possible to work around challenges such as rock weathering.

The fellowship also acknowledged Tarduno's contributions to the study of Pacific hotspots. Tarduno uses ocean drilling technology to sample subsided oceanic islands in the Pacific, studying the history of mantle plumes that give rise to volcanic chains such as the Hawaiian Islands.

He has led students on expeditions to the Arctic tundra, and received the Goergen Award for Contributions to Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. In 2006, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation named him a Fellow for his study of the geomagnetic field and magnetic shielding of the early Earth. The National Science Foundation funds Tarduno's research.

The American Geophysical Union is a worldwide scientific community dedicated to cooperative research and the understanding of Earth and space for the benefit of humanity.