Thomas J. Ahrens

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Thomas Julian Ahrens (April 25, 1936 – November 24, 2010) was a Professor of Geophysics at Caltech who was known for his study of the terrestrial planets and impact processes on planetary surfaces. Ahrens died on November 24, 2010 at the age of 74.[1][2]


B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1957; M.S., Caltech, 1958; Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1962.


Geophysicist, Pan American Petroleum Corporation, from 1958 to 1959; Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Ballistics Research Laboratory, 1959–60.

Geophysicist, Head Geophysics Section, Poulter Laboratory, Stanford Research Institute, 1962-67. He was hired and worked for Thomas Poulter.[3]

Associate Professor of Geophysics, Caltech, 1967–76; Professor, 1976–2004; W. M. Keck Foundation Professor of Earth Sciences, 1996–2001; Jones Professor, 2004–05; Jones Professor Emeritus, 2005-2010.[4]

Awards and Honours[edit]

Ahrens was awarded the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 1984 along with co-authors Sally M. Rigden and Edward M. Stolper for a report "Densities of Liquid Silicates at High Pressures," Science 30 November 1984.[5]He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992,[6] and received the Harry H. Hess Award in 1996.[3]

The iron-rich endmember of the γ-olivine solid solution series, γ-Fe2SiO4, was named ahrensite in his honour in 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Caltech press release". 
  2. ^ Jeanloz, Raymond; Asimow, Paul (8 June 2011). "Obituary: Thomas Julian Ahrens (1936-2010)". Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. 43 (1). doi:10.3847/BAASOBIT2011025. 
  3. ^ a b "Thomas J. Ahrens". American Geophysical Union. Retrieved 2012-09-23. 
  4. ^ "Caltech Bio". 
  5. ^ "Sally M. Rigden". History & Archives. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Thomas J. Ahrens". Member directory. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved May 20, 2013.