J. Marvin Herndon

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J. Marvin Herndon

J. Marvin Herndon (born 1944) is an American interdisciplinary scientist, who earned his BA degree in physics in 1970 from the University of California, San Diego and his Ph.D. degree in nuclear chemistry in 1974 from Texas A&M University.[1] For three years, J. Marvin Herndon was a post-doctoral assistant to Hans Suess and Harold C. Urey in geochemistry and cosmochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. He is the President of Transdyne Corporation in San Diego, California. He has been profiled in Current Biography, and dubbed a “maverick geophysicist” by The Washington Post.[2] He suggested that the composition of the inner core of Earth is nickel silicide; the conventional view is that it is iron–nickel alloy[3] More recently, he has suggested "georeactor" planetocentric nuclear fission reactors as energy sources for the gas giant outer planets.[4] as the energy source and production mechanism for the geomagnetic field [5] and stellar ignition by nuclear fission.[6]

In 2005 Herndon postulated what he calls whole-earth decompression dynamics, which he describes as a unified theory combining elements of plate tectonics and Earth expansion. He suggests that Earth formed from a Jupiter-sized gas giant by catastrophic loss of its gaseous atmosphere with subsequent decompression and expansion of the rocky remnant planet resulting in decompression cracks at continental margins which are filled in by basalts from mid-ocean ridges.[7]

Recent measuments of "geoneutrino" fluxes in the KamLAND and Borexino experiments have falsified Herndon's "georeactor" hypothesis on the presence of an active nuclear fission reactor in the Earth's inner core.[8]


  • Herndon, J. M. (1993) Feasibility of a nuclear fission reactor at the center of the Earth as the energy source for the geomagnetic field. J. Geomag. Geoelectr. 45, 423-437.
  • Herndon, J. M. (1994) Planetary and protostellar nuclear fission: Implications for planetary change, stellar ignition and dark matter. Proc. R. Soc. Lond A455, 453-461.
  • Herndon, J. M. (1996) Sub-structure of the inner core of the earth. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 93, 646-648.
  • Hollenbach, D. F. and Herndon, J. M. (2001) Deep-earth reactor: nuclear fission, helium, and the geomagnetic field. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 98, 11085-11090.
  • Herndon, J. M. (2003) Nuclear georeactor origin of oceanic basalt 3He/4He, evidence, and implications. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 100, 3047-3050.
  • Herndon, J. M. (2004) Scientific basis of knowledge on Earth's composition. Curr. Sci. 88, 1034-1037.
  • Herndon, J. M. (2005) Whole-Earth decompression dynamics. Curr. Sci. 89(11), 1937-1941.
  • Herndon, J. M. (2006) Energy for geodynamics: Mantle decompression thermal-tsunami. Curr. Sci., 90(12), 1605-160Herndon, J. M. (2006) Solar System processes underlying planetary formation, geodynamics, and the georeactor. Earth, Moon, and Planets, 99, 53-99.
  • Herndon, J. M. (2006) Enhanced prognosis for abiotic natural gas and petroleum resources. Curr. Sci. 91(5), 596-598.
  • Herndon, J. M. (2007) Discovery of fundamental mass ratio relationships of whole-rock chondritic major elements: Implications on ordinary chondrite formation and on planet Mercury's composition. Curr. Sci. 93(3), 394-399.
  • Herndon, J. M. (2007) Nuclear georeactor generation of the Earth's geomagnetic field. Curr. Sci. 93(11), 1485-1487.
  • Herndon, J. M. (2008) Maverick’s Earth and Universe, Vancouver: Trafford Press, ISBN 978-1-4251-4132-5
  • Herndon, J. M. (2009) Nature of planetary matter and magnetic field generation in the Solar System. Curr. Sci. 96 (8), 1033-1039. http://nuclearplanet.com/1033a.pdf
  • Herndon, J. M. (2009) Internal heat production in hot Jupiter exo-planets, thermonuclear ignition of dark galaxies, and the basis for galactic luminous star distributions. Curr. Sci. 96 (11) 10, 1453-1456. http://nuclearplanet.com/1453.pdf
  • Herndon, J. M. (2011) Geodynamic basis of heat transport in the Earth. Curr. Sci. 101 (11), 1440-1450. http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/101/11/1440.pdf
  • Herndon, J. M. (2012) Origin of mountains and primary initiation of submarine canyons: the consequences of Earth’s early formation as a Jupiter-like gas giant. Curr. Sci. 102 (10), 1370-1372. http://nuclearplanet.com/1370.pdf
  • Herndon, J. M. (2012) Hydrogen geysers: explanation for observed evidence of geologically recent volatile-related activity on Mercury’s surface. Curr. Sci. 103 (4), 361-362. http://nuclearplanet.com/0361.pdf
  • Herndon, J.M. (2013) New indivisible planetary science paradigm August 2013, Curr. Sci. 105(4), 450-460. http://nuclearplanet.com/450.pdf


  1. ^ Current Biography 64: 45-49, 2003, http://web.archive.org/web/20050205193822/http://nuclearplanet.com/profile.htm, similar link: J. Marvin Herndon's Brief Biography at January 12, 2013
  2. ^ Guy Gugliotta. Is Earth's Core a Nuclear Fission Reactor?[dead link], The Washington Post, March 24, 2003, p. A06
  3. ^ Herndon, J. M. (1979) The nickel silicide inner core of the Earth. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A368, 495-500.
  4. ^ Herndon, J. M. (1992) Nuclear fission reactors as energy sources for the giant outer planets, Naturwissenschaften 79, 7-14.
  5. ^ Herndon, J. M. (2007) Nuclear georeactor generation of Earth’s geomagnetic field. Current Science, V. 93, No. 11, 1485-1487.
  6. ^ Herndon, J. M. (1994) Planetary and protostellar nuclear fission: Implications for planetary change, stellar ignition and dark matter. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond., A455, 453-461.
  7. ^ J. Marvin Herndon, Whole-earth decompression dynamics, Current Science, V. 89, No. 11, 10 Dec. 2005
  8. ^ Borexino Collaboration (2010). "Observation of geo-neutrinos". Phys. Lett. B 687 (4-5): 299–304. arXiv:1003.0284. Bibcode:2010PhLB..687..299B. doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2010.03.051. 

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