Curriculum Vitae - Thomas J. Ahrens


B.S. (Geology-Geophysics) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1957

M.S. (Geophysics) California Institute of Technology, 1958

Ph.D. (Geophysics) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1962


Geophysicist, Pan American Petroleum Corporation, 1958-59

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Ballistics Research Laboratory, 1959-60

Geophysicist, Head Geophysics Section, Poulter Laboratory, Stanford Research Institute, 1962-67.

Conducted shock wave and impact experiments on rocks and minerals. Studied the effects of explosion in vacuo and explosive seismic coupling on the Moon. Discovered shock induced phase transitions in carbonates.

Associate Professor, California Institute of Technology, 1967-76.

Taught graduate courses in solid-state geophysics and graduate and undergraduate courses in physics of the earth. Organized, built, and directed the first academic laboratory in the U.S. devoted to understanding dynamic properties of earth and planetary materials.

Professor of Geophysics, 1976-present, W. M. Keck Professor of Earth Sciences 1996-2001,

Fletcher Jones Professor of Geophysics 2004 -2005.

Fletcher Jones Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, 2005-present.

Conducted the first shock wave experiments on lunar samples and solid hydrogen. Developed the first method for studying shock effects in carbonates using electron spin resonance. Conducted the first absorption spectroscopy on minerals under shock loading. Discovered major phase changes in CaO, FeO, KAlSi2O8, and KFeS2. Developed shock temperature methods for a two-stage light gas gun. Measured shock temperatures in silicates, metals, and oxides. Conducted the first planetary cratering calculations for mass of melted and vaporized material and mass and energy of ejecta as a function of planetary escape velocity. Conducted experimental shock vaporization on volatile-bearing minerals and studied the formation of oceans and atmospheres. Conducted the first dynamic compression experiments on molten silicates and related these to determining the maximum depth of volcanism on the terrestrial planets, as well as the crystallization sequence of magma oceans. Conducted the first thermodynamic calculations which delineated the shock (impact) conditions for melting and vaporization of planetary materials. Co-Investigator, Cosmic Dust Analyzer Experiment, 1992-present, on 1997 NASA/ESA Cassini Mission to Saturn. Conducted first smoothed particle hydrodynamic calculations to investigate energy partitioning upon impact in self-gravitational planetary systems. Conducted first quantitative tensile failure studies for brittle media relating crack-density to elastic velocity deficits and the onset of damage.

Approximately 375 publications (abstracts excluded), 3 U.S. Patents

Supervised the following Ph.D. graduate students:

1. Geoffrey F. Davies 17. William W. Anderson
2. Edward S. Gaffney 18. Gregory H. Miller
3. Rex V. Gibbons 19. Catherine L. Smither
4. Peter L. Lagus 20. Thomas S. Duffy
5. John Dugan O'Keefe 21. Linda R. Rowan
6. Susan A. Raikes 22. Toshiko Takata
7. Raymond Jeanloz 23. Wenbo Yang
8. Gregory A. Lyzenga 24. George (Guangqing) Chen
9. Joana Vizgirda 25. Kathleen Holland
10. Stephen N. Cohn 26. Nancy Winfree
11. Mark Boslough 27. Cangli Liu
12. Sally M. Rigden 28. Sarah T. Stewart Mukhopadhyay
13. Douglas R. Schmitt 29. Shengnian Luo
14. Bob Svendsen 30. Joseph A. Akins
15. Manfred A. Lange
16. Carol Polanskey

Supervised the following post-doctoral Research Fellows and Visiting Associates:

1. Friedrich Hörz 19. Toshimori Sekine
2. Leon Thomsen 20. Neil W. Page
3. Earl K. Graham 21. Mohsen Shahinpoor
4. John D. Kleeman 22. Noreen Evans
5. Steven J. Bless 23. Yusheng Zhao
6. Ian Jackson 24. Amir Yeganeh-Haeri
7. John D. O'Keefe 25. Cangli Liu
8. Tsuneaki Goto 26. Jun'ichi Haruyama
9. Ken Kondo 27. Stanley G. Love
10. Malcolm R. Somerville 28. James R. Lyons
11. Manfred A. Lange 29. Jessica Faust
12. J. Peter Watt 30. Joseph R. Smyth
13. James A. Tyburczy 31. Satish Gupta
14. Jay D. Bass 32. Jyoti Daswani
15. David K. Potter 33. Ingrid Mann
16. Hua Tan 34. Oliver Tschauner
17. Allan Rubin 35. Hsi-Tien (Andy) Shen
18. Masa Yanagisawa

Major Professional Service

Associate Editor, Review of Scientific Instruments, 1972-74

Associated Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research, 1972-74

Earth Sciences Advisory Committee, Nat'l Science Foundation, 1973-76

Chairman, Geophysics - Gordon Research Conference, 1974

President, Sigma Xi, California Institute of Technology Chapter, 1974-75

Advisory Editor, Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, 1976-1996

Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research (Solid Earth and Planets) 1979-1982

Advisory Committee, Division of Earth Sciences, National Science Foundation, 1979-82

NASA, Lunar and Planetary Review Panel, 1978-1980

Commission, Physical Properties of the Earth's Interior (Int. Assoc. Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior), 1979-1983

Chairman, Commission on Physical Properties of the Earth's Interior (Int. Assoc. of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior), 1983-1987

Editorial Board, Surveys in Geophysics, 1984-1994

President, Section of Tectonophysics, American Geophysical Union, 1984-1986

Chairman, NASA Science Working Group, Comet Nucleus Sample Return Mission, 1985- 1988; 1990-1991

Chairman, American Physical Society, Topical Group on Shock Compression of Condensed Matter, 1988-89

Convenor, American Geophysical Union Mineral Physics Workshop, 1988

Chairman, American Geophysical Union, Committee on Study of the Deep Earth's Interior, 1988-90

Editor, Handbook of Physical Constants, 1989-1995

Editorial Board, High Pressure Research, 1989-

NASA Lunar and Planetary Geosciences Review Panel 1990-1992

NSF Advisory Committee Earth Science Instrument and Facilities Program 1991-1992

Chairman, Advisory Committee, Physics Today 1992

Chairman, American Geophysical Union, Macelwane Award Committee 1992-1994

Editorial Board, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 1992-

Editorial Board, Planetary and Space Science, 1992-1996

Convenor, Conference on Deep Earth and Planetary Volatiles, 1994

Governing Board, American Institute of Physics, 1996-1999

Visiting Committees -

Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington - Joint Visiting Committee 1989.

Center for Tectonics, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1987

Department of Geology and Geophysics, Princeton University, 1990-1993

Division of Earth and Planetary Science, Harvard University, 1990-1996

Max Planck Institut für Chemie, Mainz, Germany, 1993-

Division of Physical Science, University of Chicago, 1993

Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1995.

Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, 1997.


Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 1982

Newcomb-Cleveland Prize, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1984.

Main Belt Asteroid - 4739, Tomahrens, 1985TH1, 1991

Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 1992

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1994

Shock Compression Science Award, American Physical Society, 1995

Arthur L. Day Medal, Geological Society of America, 1995

Harry H. Hess Medal, American Geophysical Union, 1996

Mary B. Ansari Award, Geoscience Information Society, 1996

W. M. Keck Professor of Earth Sciences, 1996 - 2001

Barringer Medal, Meteoritical Society, 1997

Geochemistry Fellow, Geochemical Society and the European Association for Geochemistry, 1998

NASA/Group Achievement Award, Cassini, Cosmic Dust Analyzer, 1998.

Foreign Associate, Russian Academy of Sciences, 1999.

Fletcher Jones Professor of Geophysics, 2004 -