History of MRP section

By Robert Cooper Liebermann (Updated Apr. 14, 2020)

In the 1960s, mineral physics began to emerge as a distinct discipline with the geosciences [the term “mineral physics” was coined by Orson Anderson when he established his experimental lab at Lamont Observatory of Columbia (see details in Liebermann, 2019).  Over the next decade, the mineral physics community began to organize an initiative to establish a formal role in the American Geophysical Union (AGU).  At the Spring Meeting in Philadelphia in 1982, a small group met for lunch to develop a proposal for AGU recognition; among those attending were Orson Anderson (UCLA),  Michael Brown (University of Washington), Raymond Jeanloz (UC Berkeley), Bob Liebermann and Donald Weidner (Stony Brook University).

In 1983, the AGU Executive Council approved the establishment of an All-Union Committee on Mineral Physics with Orson Anderson as the Founding Chair; major roles were played by Michael Brown [Secretary], Robert Hazen [as Editor of Mineral Physics News in EOS] and Bob Liebermann [as Foreign Secretary].  The Committee also hosted several workshops, including one in 1988 at Lake Arrowhead, California organized by Thomas Ahrens and William Bassett.

In the early 1990s, rock mechanics colleagues met on the steps of the AGU Conference center in San Francisco to discuss establishing a complimentary AGU committee in rock mechanics; including Bill Durham (Lawrence Livermore NL), Harry Green (UC Riverside), Steve Kirby (USGS), Andy Kronenberg (Texas A&M), David Kohlstedt (University of Minnesota), Jan & Terry Tullis (Brown University) and Teng-fong Wong (Stony Brook University).  At the suggestion of Brian Evans, the latter group chose to be called the Physical Properties of Earth Materials committee.  Later, both committees were designated as AGU Focus Groups.  Steve Kirby and Bob Liebermann orchestrated a merger of the two Focus Groups and selected the name Mineral and Rock Physics. 

The Focus Group later evolved to became a formal Section of the AGU and is now fully-fledged and flourishing.  Although the members of the MRP section constitute only ~1% of the total AGU membership, they exert a disproportionate influence because mineral and rock physics is intimately connected to many other geoscience disciplines including seismology, planetary science, petrology, geochemistry, geomagnetism, and geodynamics, and even materials and climate science. [see Williams-Lattimore diagram below; copyright R. C. Liebermann].


Executive Committee

Current Officers

Sebastien MerkelPresident
Sébastien Merkel
University of Lille
Email | Bio


Lars HansenPresident-elect
Lars Hansen
University of Minnesota
Email | Bio

Sally June Tracy
Carnegie Institution 

Wenlu Zhu

Immediate Past President
Wenlu Zhu
University of Maryland



Student Representative 
Claire Zurkowski
University of Chicago
OSPA and student travel grants
Marius Adrien Millot
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Standing Committees

Fellow Committee

Award Committee (Early Career, Graduate Research and Jamieson Paper Awards)

Canvasing Committee

Fall Meeting Program Committee


Previous committee members

MRP presidents:
Andy Campbell, Philip Skemer

Fellow Committee:
Reid Cooper, Bill Durham, Sébastien Merkel, Eiji Ohtani

Award Committee:
James Badro, Katherine Crispin, Ian Jackson

Meeting program committee members:
Razvan Caracas, Rebecca Fischer,  Sébastien Merkel, Sergio Vinciguerra, Wenlu Zhu

Susannah Dorfman, Jin Zhang

OSPA, student travel grants:
Wendy Panero

EOS contact
Sébastien Merkel

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