Geoscientist Richard Carlson Awarded the Arthur L. Day Medal

The Geological Society of America (GSA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of the geosciences.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 

Carnegie Institute for Science Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) geochemist Richard Carlson was awarded the prestigious Arthur L. Day Medal at the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting in Denver, Colorado on Monday, 28 October 2013. The Day Medal is awarded to recognize a geoscientist for his/her outstanding achievement in the contribution to geologic research through the utilization of physics and chemistry in addressing geologic problems.

Carnegie President, Richard Meserve, remarked, “Rick is very deserving of this distinction, he is highly accomplished in his field and is an exceptional mentor. He typifies a Carnegie scientist.”

Carlson studies the chemical and physical processes that formed the terrestrial planets. Using the known decay rates of various radioactive isotopes, he investigates the chronology of early processes on small planetary objects and studies the chemical and physical aspects of old and young crust-forming processes on Earth. He has developed and applied a range of isotopic geochemical and cosmochemical tools that shape our understanding of the origin of continental magmas, the formation of the continental crust and lithospheric mantle, the early differentiation of the Earth and Moon, and the chronology of the early Solar System.

Most recently, Carlson’s research has found several signs on Earth indicating a major melting event occurred around 4.45 billion years ago, such as a mammoth collision by an object 5 times the mass of Mars, which may have formed the Moon. Newly discovered evidence by Carlson and his colleagues is building the argument that this collision actually happened 100 million years after scientists had originally thought the Moon was formed, reshaping the way we understand the early Earth.

At the award ceremony, Carlson’s first DTM postdoc, William K. Hart, and former postdoc turned fellow DTM Staff Member, Steven B. Shirey, were both present to watch Carlson receive his medal. Shirey was elected Vice President (president-elect) of the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA) this year as well. This respected position is given to a Scientist who exemplifies excellence and advancement in mineralogy research.

Rather than honoring a distinguished career, Arthur L. Day, former Director of Carnegie Institution for Science’s Geophysical Laboratory (GL), created this award to inspire the recipient to actively pursue their research. Carlson’s accomplishments have already distinguished him as a leader in his field. This medal will further spark his pursuit to impact the Earth and Planetary Sciences spanning across all geochemical and cosmochemical fields throughout the rest of his career.