Geology & Geophysics AGU News

Jackson Receives 2015 William Gilbert Award

Michael Jackson will receive the 2015 William Gilbert Award at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 14–18 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes outstanding and unselfish work in magnetism of Earth materials and of the Earth and planets.



Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

With great pleasure we present the 2015 William Gilbert Awardee, Michael Jackson, recognizing his fundamental contributions and pioneering applications in rock and paleomagnetism and his unselfish service to the geomagnetism and paleomagnetism community. Many know Mike as facility manager of the Institute for Rock Magnetism (IRM), and many have experienced first‐hand his generosity and help. It was once said that Mike is the face of the IRM, but he isn’t just another pretty face. Truly, he is a world‐class rock magnetist known for drilling down into fundamental rock magnetism to solve paleomagnetic problems.

Two examples highlight his many research accomplishments. Mike discovered that nanophase magnetite caused by orogenic fluids was responsible for large‐scale remagnetization of Paleozoic limestones in North America. Using hysteresis and low-temperature magnetometry, he identified which limestones were accurate paleomagnetic recorders and which were remagnetized long after deposition. The second is an elegant application of anisotropy of magnetic remanence (AMR) in sedimentary rocks that led to his discovery that inclination shallowing due to compaction can be corrected by determining the AMR tensor. As a supporting letter states, “This much‐cited seminal work paved the way and provided rigorous ground truth to other methods for retrieving accurate paleolatitudes from sedimentary rocks, thereby further improving paleogeographic reconstructions.”

Mike’s impact on our field goes beyond research accomplishments. As IRM facility manager for over 20 years, Mike plays a pivotal role in its intellectual vision and in making it an acclaimed international center for research and education in rock magnetism. He has provided support through mentoring and training to over 200 visiting scientists. As his style, he helps each visitor make the most of their IRM visit, blending a mix of patience, sage advice, personal assistance, and genuine interest in their work. In many ways, Mike personifies the AGU motto of “unselfish cooperation.”

—Bruce M. Moskowitz and Subir K. Banerjee, Institute for Rock Magnetism, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis


Thank you, Bruce and Subir and all my friends and colleagues.  It is, of course, gratifying to receive this award, and I’m truly honored to be in the company of the previous recipients.  It’s also a bit disconcerting because there are many others that I consider to be more qualified than I am for this distinction.  But I interpret this award as a recognition not just of me individually but also of the Institute for Rock Magnetism and the team there of which I am a part, and in this spirit I gratefully accept it.

I feel very fortunate to belong to the Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism section in general and to the IRM in particular.  We share a truly fascinating field of study, building on the work of Gilbert, Gauss, Néel, and so many others, combining the mesmerizing physics of magnetism with an endless variety of geological and extraterrestrial processes.  And the Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism section is a real research community.  For the most part our members are happily independent and self-reliant, running individual labs and pursuing independent lines of investigation, yet we also value and support collective efforts such as the MagIC database and the IRM instrumentation facility, which serve as community resources to the benefit of all.

I owe a great debt of thanks to many who have inspired me, mentored me, collaborated with me, and improved my work through constructive criticism, and I regret that space limits the number that I can mention explicitly.  In Ann Arbor, Rob Van der Voo and Henry Pollack introduced me to geophysical research and more broadly to the processes of scientific thought and inquiry.  In Minneapolis, Subir Banerjee deserves enormous credit for his wisdom and vision in establishing the IRM, the collegial environment in which I’ve been privileged to interact with him and with a large number of eminent visiting scientists, as well as with a host of exceptional resident scholars, including Bruce Moskowitz, Horst Worm, Jim Marvin, Peat Solheid, Julie Bowles, Josh Feinberg, Dario Bilardello, and Brian Carter-Stiglitz.  I thank them all, I thank you all, and I hope to see you at the IRM.

—Michael Jackson, Institute for Rock Magnetism, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis

Citation: AGU (2015), Jackson receives 2015 William Gilbert Award, Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO035557. Published on 16 September 2015.

© 2015. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0