Laurent Montési, the new Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets beside a model of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft. Credit: Sam Howell

We are delighted to announce that Laurent Montési has just taken over as the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. We asked him some questions about his own research interests and his vision for the journal.

What are your own areas of scientific interest?

I build theoretical models of the physical and chemical processes at work in the interior of planets. You can call that geodynamics. In particular, I look for ways to use observations of volcanic and tectonic activity to constrain the physical conditions of planetary interiors and how this may have changed over time.

Perhaps surprisingly for a planetary scientist, many of my projects started with a focus on the Earth. For example, I used variations in oceanic crust thickness to constrain the principles of melt migration and extraction. Also, I have a long-standing interest in relating the strength of rocks with their microstructure, to understand the formation and characteristics of ductile shear zones. However, I have always found it crucial to consider the wide variety of planetary bodies that exist in the solar systems.

Physical and chemical processes are universal but are expressed differently in different planets. I try to understand the origin of these differences. Why is there no plate tectonics on Mars or Venus? How similar are the ice shell of Europa or Enceladus to the Earth’s lithosphere? Each body is a new sample, a new outcome, of common geological processes.

What does it mean to you to serve as Editor-in-Chief of JGR: Planets?

Serving as Editor-in-Chief of JGR: Planets is an incredible privilege. I have the responsibility of curating a journal that covers both the fundamental bases of planetary science and the exciting new discoveries that move the discipline forward.

The journal covers both the fundamental bases of planetary science and the exciting new discoveries that move the discipline forward.

First and foremost, I am responsible for maintaining the high standards of scientific quality that our readership has come to associate with the journal. JGR: Planets depends on the hard work of volunteers from the scientific community. The least that the journal’s editorial board and I can do is to treat authors and reviewers with the respect they rightfully deserve, for example by providing a fair and speedy review process.

The journal is part of the AGU’s portfolio of 21 journals and these need to respond to changes in the publication landscape. For example, Open Access and FAIR data principles are reshaping the habits of the scientific community. As Editor-in-Chief of JGR: Planets, I serve as an ambassador from the planetary science community to AGU and it is my duty to ensure a complete understanding of these issues by all the parties involved. I want to make sure the journal will keep on serving the planetary science community in the long-term.

How do you plan to take the journal forward in the coming years?

This year, the planetary science community marks the 50 years since the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon just as a Chinese mission has landed on the far side of the Moon for the first time. Meanwhile, AGU is celebrating its centennial, and JGR: Planets recently turned 25. These events encourage us to reflect on the mission of the journal, to “serve the entire planetary science community”, as Clark Chapman wrote in his inaugural editorial back in 1991.

Our community has grown and diversified dramatically since the journal’s inception. As a discipline of exploration, planetary science constantly evolves and redefines itself. We must reach out to emerging sectors of planetary sciences while maintaining the high standards of publication that JGR: Planets is valued for.

For example, I would like the journal to increase the number of articles published on topics relating to the outer solar system and to small bodies, particularly important since many recent and upcoming missions focus on asteroids and Kuiper belts objects, and NASA has also launched its Ocean Worlds initiative.

Be on the look-out for Special Collections aimed at forging better ties between our journal and these growing sectors.

As more and more planets are being discovered beyond our solar system, we stand at the cusp of making geologically-relevant observations. I want JGR: Planets to become the primary host for papers addressing the geophysical aspects of exoplanets.

Be on the look-out for Special Collections aimed at forging better ties between our journal and these growing sectors.

—Laurent G. J. Montési (email:, Department of Geology, University of Maryland College Park


Montési, L. G. J. (2019), Introducing the new editor-in-chief of JGR: Planets, Eos, 100, Published on 16 May 2019.

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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