Brian Harold Mason

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Brian Harold Mason
Born (1917-04-18)April 18, 1917
Port Chalmers, Dunedin
Died December 3, 2009(2009-12-03) (aged 92)
Fields Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Meteoritics
Institutions University of Indiana, Smithsonian Institution
Alma mater University of Stockholm
Thesis Mineralogical aspects of the system FeO - Fe2O3 - MnO - Mn2O3 (1943)
Doctoral advisor Victor Moritz Goldschmidt
Known for Meteorite classification
Notable awards Leonard Medal
Roebling Medal (1993)

Brian Harold Mason (1917–2009) was a New Zealand geochemist and mineralogist who was one of the pioneers in the study of meteorites.[1]

Mason has played a leading part in understanding the nature of the solar system through his studies of meteorites and lunar rocks.

Mason has also examined and classified thousands of meteorites collected from Antarctica.[2][3]


Mason was born in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, in 1917 and was brought up in Christchurch, New Zealand. He studied at Christchurch Boys' High School and geology and chemistry at Canterbury University College. In 1943, he completed a PhD in geochemistry at the University of Stockholm under Victor Goldschmidt.

Mason returned to Christchurch where he was appointed lecture of Geology at Canterbury University College. He tough there for two years. In 1947, Mason was appointed Professor of mineralogy at University of Indiana where he was based for rest of his life. He was a curator of mineralogy at both the American Museum of Natural History, New York, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Two minerals have been named after Brian. Brianite is a phosphate mineral and Stenhuggarite (from the Swedish ‘stenhuggar’ – ‘mason’) is a rare iron-antimony mineral. Asteroid 12926 Brianmason is also named in his honor.[4]

Mason won the Leonard Medal from the Meteoritical Society in 1972 and the Roebling Medal from the Mineralogical Society of America in 1993.

Mason passed on December 3, 2009 from renal failure. He was survived by his stepson, Frank W. Turner, who lived with Dr. Mason in Chevy Chase, MD.

Mason's third wife, Margarita C. Babb, and mother of Frank Turner, passed on February 3, 2009 due to complications from multiple myeloma (a blood cancer). Mason and Margarita were married for 15 years.

Dr. Mason was married two other times, first to Anne Marie Linn and then to Virginia Powell; both marriages ended in divorce. He had a son, George, with his second wife. George died in a mountain climbing accident in 1981 at the age of 20.


  • The literature of geology, American Museum of Natural History, 1953
  • Meteorites, Wiley, 1962
  • The lunar rocks, Authors Brian Harold Mason, William G. Melson, Wiley-Interscience, 1970, ISBN 978-0-471-57530-6
  • Handbook of elemental abundances in meteorites, Editor Brian Harold Mason, Gordon and Breach, 1971
  • Principles of Geochemistry Editor Carleton B. Moore, Wiley, 1982, ISBN 978-0-471-57522-1
  • Victor Moritz Goldschmidt: father of modern geochemistry, Geochemical Society, 1992, ISBN 978-0-941809-03-0

See also[edit]