Juan Carlos Afonso
The 2013 Division Outstanding Young Scientist Award is awarded to Juan Carlos Afonso for integrated studies of the rheology and physical properties of the lithosphere.
Juan Carlos Afonso has been noted by his maturity and his keen sense for the most relevant science problems. In particular he has developed and applied the first version of the integrated geophysical/petrological tool/project LitMod. This work is at the forefront of integrated studies of the rheology and physical properties of the lithosphere, modelling the evolution of oceanic lithosphere and continental margins, and mechanisms of isostatic equilibrium and dynamic topography. This unique project, which is producing a long-awaited complete integration of geophysics, petrology and geochemistry, is the result of his leadership. It is a multinational, cross-disciplinary and visionary programme which is quite remarkable, especially given that this has all developed in the very early stages of his career. The vision and achievements of this research programme are clearly due to his leadership and his extraordinary ability to enthuse and engage people at high levels of research excellence across all these fields.
Each single discipline within the geosciences has progressed tremendously over the 20th century; the problems now lie at the interfaces between the sub-disciplines and ensuring that all data are honoured in integrated models. The LitMod petrophysical framework provides a platform wherein chemistry and physics are married such that models of lithosphere and sub-lithospheric mantle must be consistent with petrology, heat flow, topography, gravity, geoid, seismic and electromagnetic observations.
His overall ability is first class, not only as judged by his accomplishments, but – very importantly – because of his very broad research knowledge, scientific curiosity, work capacity, and collaborative attitude and willingness to work in groups. He is a very worthy recipient of the Geodynamics Division Outstanding Young Scientist Award.