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].