The DCO Community Pays Tribute to Erik Hauri

With the passing of Erik Hauri, DCO has lost one of its most dedicated and effective leaders.

Erik Hauri Marianas

With the passing of Erik Hauri, DCO has lost one of its most dedicated and effective leaders. Erik influenced everyone around him with his smile, upbeat demeanor, and can-do style. He was a deeply respected friend and an admired scientific colleague.

But to me Erik was something more—someone to whom I owed a great debt. At the very start of the Deep Carbon adventure—at a time when the DCO was just a glimmer, when many colleagues were skeptical of the venture (if not openly hostile)—Erik was “all in.” He jumped at the chance to advance our science and he immediately assumed an active position of leadership. Indeed, Erik essentially invented the kind of visionary role, nurturing bottom-up grassroots science while gently nudging things in productive directions—actions that allowed DCO to thrive.

Erik Hauri made so many contributions, both within DCO and beyond, but what stand out to me were Erik’s unshakable commitments to his early-career colleagues. He nurtured, guided, and supported so many young colleagues—gifted scientists who will carry on the work he began, but left unfinished. As their careers blossom, as they in turn embrace his spirit of mentoring and support, they will become Erik’s greatest scientific legacy.

Robert Hazen, Carnegie Institution for Science, USA, DCO Executive Director

Eriki Hauri Portrait
Erik Hauri in Kamchatka in 2011. Credit: Patrick Allard

The Carnegie Institution for Science, Deep Carbon Observatory, and broader scientific community are shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of Erik Hauri at age 52. Erik was at the zenith of his career when his contributions were cut short by his untimely death. Erik had an extremely strong start to his career—winning both the James B. Macelwane Medal from American Geophysical Union and the F. G. Houtermans Medal from the European Association of Geochemistry in 2000—and his influence kept growing stronger and stronger. One colleague told me she cites Erik’s research in every paper she writes. 

It’s no secret that Erik’s professional influence is much greater than his scientific publications. Erik’s selfless leadership of DCO focused on answering the most important scientific questions. He fostered two of DCO’s most successful research groups, Diamonds and the Mantle Geodynamics of Carbon (DMGC) and Deep Earth Carbon Degassing (DECADE). Neither of these initiatives is strongly aligned with Erik’s research but both have transformed deep carbon science. 

Early career scientists from around the world flocked to Erik’s laboratory, but they departed with something much more precious than their valuable data. They departed with a lifelong colleague and friend who would devote enormous time and energy to promote their science and careers. Through their contributions, Erik continues to inspire deep thoughts on deep carbon. 

Craig Schiffries, Carnegie Institution for Science, USA, DCO Director

Erik was a superb scientist and a great friend. There are so many fine things to highlight about Erik’s career. First and foremost, he was a tireless mentor, launching a great number of careers by nurturing PhD students and postdocs. The Reservoirs and Fluxes community of the Deep Carbon Observatory could only have been shaped by Erik. His breadth of knowledge and expertise brought together, into one coherent community, diamond geochemists thinking about carbon cycling in the mantle through deep time, volcanic gas geochemists developing brand new ways to measure the volcanic carbon flux, and a range of modelers, data scientists and experimentalists. And it became a vibrant and self sustaining group that has made enormous discoveries and will continue to do so into the future. We co-chaired R&F together. I will miss his wit and his wisdom greatly.

Marie Edmonds, University of Cambridge, UK, Reservoirs and Fluxes Co-Chair

Erik Hauri and Alberto Saal
Erik Hauri and Alberto Saal with an ion microprobe at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Credit: Steven Jacobsen/Northwestern University

His obituary in the Washington Post called him the man who discovered water on the moon. I thought it was appropriate, because I knew his interest in volatiles and deep recycling of volatiles in Earth’s mantle started when only very few people were thinking about it. What I still remember is his Nature paper in 1993, in which he discovered compelling evidence for carbonatite-induced geochemical enrichment of the oceanic lithosphere; carbonatite metasomatism had been known for continental regions, but this was the first report in the oceanic region. Furthermore, materials involved in the process had isotopic signatures of altered oceanic crust (HIMU signatures). He was always way ahead of the pack. I seriously miss him.

Nobumichi Shimizu, Scientist Emeritus, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA

It's not easy to find the right words for such a sudden and shocking loss. I met Erik for the first time at the Goldschmidt conference in  Davos, 2009. We were playing on stage with my band during the icebreaker and, while doing my best with my stratocaster, I spotted a tall guy coming to the stage, with a big, childish smile! Erik did not know I was a rock 'n' roll amateur, and I did not know he was a guitar geek, crafting superb custom instruments. The second time we met was at a subduction workshop at Mount Hood in the Cascades range. Before going there, we had a two-day field trip to Mt St Helens, and he kindly offered to share his room and car with me, a good opportunity to talk about music and guitars. Later on he proposed me as co-chair the DCO Reservoirs and Fluxes community. Maybe music played a role in this association...

Bernard Marty, Université de Lorraine CRPG-CNRS, France

Erik Hauri Marianas Helicopter
Marianas Islands, 2004. Here we are flying to, and then atop, Pagan volcano. Somewhere during the hike up, while exhaustion tried (but failed!) to beat out our excitement, he turned to me and said “next time we train for this... less treadmill, more stair master.” It was a silly moment, but I still always think of it whenever I'm traipsing up a mountain, or wasting time on a treadmill. - Jennifer Wade, US National Science Foundation

Erik Hauri wrote papers that you always wanted to read. His works on planetary volatiles were masterpieces. Careful and clear, they consistently revealed important and novel insights into the workings of Earth, the moon, and other planetary bodies. Erik was also a guiding star for the Deep Carbon Observatory. His scientific vision shaped our effort early on, then helped us adapt, build and grow. His calm, resolute, and purposeful leadership improved the DCO at every opportunity. His quiet charm, humor, clarity, and penetrating scholarship serve as an inspiring model for us all.

Craig Manning, University of California Los Angeles, USA, DCO Executive Committee Chair

It is hard for me to put in words how much Erik has meant to me as  a friend, collaborator, and good spirit. He was my closest colleague – we authored 17 papers together - and he worked closely with so many of my students and postdocs for the past 18 years (see the table at the end of this article).

It was 2000 and Erik and I were both at a conference in a chateau in France, to discuss melt inclusions. I gave a talk on how great it would be if we could measure the water in arc melt inclusions – we would learn everything – what happens in subduction zones, how the mantle melts, and what drives explosive eruptions. It was a crazy talk – I had no data, I just presented some constructs for what we would learn if we *did* have data. I think Erik took pity on me, because after my talk, as one of our five-course lunches was winding down, he invited me over to his table for coffee and he said, “I can measure water in your melt inclusions. Send a student down, let’s work on this together.” And this started our close collaboration for almost 20 years.

Our students and postdocs at Boston University and then Columbia would spend months preparing samples, picking and polishing samples. This is tedious work back and forth under a microscope with tiny olivine crystals. After this, a group would descend onto DTM for a week, hot-bunking and working around the clock. Erik not only patiently trained each of them on the ion probe, but gave them full run of the lab, and great science feedback while waiting for sample changes or analyses.

In this way, Erik is responsible not only for helping my own career take off in a major new direction, but launching the careers of so many students and postdocs, many of whom now have their own students, new careers, or direct research over a large swath of geochemistry. This is a tremendous legacy that owes to Erik’s creativity, his desire to keep pushing the envelope with instrumentation, and his incredible generosity and patience in working with so many early career scientists. 

Specific to DCO, I was always so impressed with Erik’s vision and effectiveness as a leader. He really set new initiatives and communities in motion that didn’t exist before him.  One example is the proliferation of multi-gas stations on volcanoes. These have been so exciting to watch - now near-real-time measurements are being made that have revealed for the first time CO2 precursors occurring prior to several volcanic eruptions. This is thrilling not only for eruption forecasting but also for understanding how volcanoes work. The diamond community is another that has really taken off in Erik’s time at the helm of Reservoirs and Fluxes. I know his most recent wish was a global carbon box model that could be populated by data from many spheres. The good work and people he put in motion is a tremendous legacy, and we will miss his cheerful and generous spirit so much.  

Terry Plank, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, USA

Erik Hauri was always interested in the big picture. He followed the water down into Earth in subduction zones, back out in plumes and mid-ocean ridges and looked in between at its fate in the deep mantle with inclusions in diamonds. It was this quest, and Erik’s project management skills that made him a singularly important player in the Reservoirs and Fluxes Community of the Deep Carbon Observatory. Erik led this community with skill and passion in the the last ten years of his life and even until the end. Erik saw the Reservoirs and Fluxes Community as an unparalleled chance to meld volcano gas measurements on the global scale with mineral and melt measurements on the microscopic scale that would produce at once a dynamic and explicable picture of the fate of Earth’s water throughout the mantle. It was a singular vision and he had it.

Steven Shirey, Carnegie Institution for Science, USA

CCVG Group Helicopter
Participants in the 2011 IAVCEI Commission on the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases workshop. Credit: Patrick Allard

There are few people in the Earth Science community with such a comprehensive, wide-breath view on the entire discipline. Erik was one of these few. Although not a volcanic gas chemist, Erik jumped into the IAVCEI-CCVG community on a beautiful two-week-long gas meeting in Kamchatka in September 2011 - and he did so like if he had always been part of CCVG. We will never forget the day he asked us to think big, when he encouraged us to do all we could to improve our understanding of carbon fluxing through subaerial volcanoes. If we are still playing around this global DECADE network for volcanic CO2 sensing, if our community is stronger and more cohesive than it was 10 years ago, if we know much better how much carbon volcanoes degas, this is because Erik made DECADE happen. Erik was a pioneer himself in measuring volatiles in tiny silicate rock fragments and quenched glass samples, but even so he has been one of the strongest supporters of our sometimes-heroic attempt to measure gas as it finally gets out from those still liquid rocks. For this, our community will forever remain deeply indebted to Erik.

DECADE Board of Directors

Erik Hauri has had a profound impact on the study of highly volatile elements (H, C, F, S, Cl)  in volcanic glasses, nominally anhydrous and hydrous minerals, mantle peridotites, melt inclusions from the Earth, Moon, and meteorites. He revolutionized in situ analytical techniques using Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and has been involved in all aspects of the study of volatiles, from improving analytical techniques, to experimental work that determine the distribution of volatiles between different magmatic phases, to modeling of the fate of volatiles during geological and planetary processes. He has collaborated, and thus benefiting, a large community of national and international colleagues and friends and has been one of the strongest pillars making the DCO program a successful project. We, all, will miss him!

Alberto Saal, Brown University, USA

Erik Hauri Helicopter
​​​​​Erik’s participation in the September 2011 Kamchatka meeting and field trip of the Commission on the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases was crucial to the formation of DECADE. During the field trip to Mutnovsky, Erik’s home was an abandoned Soviet helicopter.
-Jesse Ausubel, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation 

Erik was an amazing scientist and a selfless leader and mentor. His contributions to understanding the behavior of volatiles in planetary systems are far reaching. Erik’s leadership in the Deep Carbon Observatory’s Reservoirs and Fluxes community was directly responsible for the research on volcanic emissions supported by DCO over the past seven years and continuing. His deep understanding of how volatiles behave in the Earth’s mantle and how they may travel to the surface and out through volcanoes or deeper into earth enabled him to see the importance of synergistic investigations drawing expertise from many disciplines. His enthusiasm for field work to get the best samples and his meticulous lab work to get the best data continues to be an inspiration.

Tobias Fischer, University of New Mexico, USA, Chair DCO DECADE Project

I first met Erik in 2011 in Kamchatka, Russia, when I was a graduate student. We were both participants in the IAVCEI Commission on the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases workshop. My first impression of Erik was as a friendly, funny, and accessible person. I didn’t realize at the time that he was a world-renowned scientist, who would have a huge impression on my career and completely transform the volcanic gas community. Throughout the workshop it became clear that Erik had BIG ideas. He introduced us to Jesse Ausubel and presented the vision of the Deep Carbon Observatory, including their goal to accurately quantify global volcanic carbon emissions within ten years. I remember thinking at the time that they were crazy and that their goals would be impossible to accomplish. Looking back nearly 10 years later I am happy to say that Erik and Jesse proved me wrong! Erik had an innate optimism and was a natural leader. He understood hard work and what could be accomplished when many minds with different perspectives came together. He also knew that people would rise to the challenge in pursuing something they believed in. Erik taught me how to think big. He provided many of us young scientists with opportunities to advance our careers, for which I will always be grateful. He started the Deep Carbon Degassing Project (DECADE), which has transformed our knowledge of global volcanic carbon emissions and volcanic degassing in general. I am grateful for the opportunities I had to learn from and work with Erik. He was an inspiration to many and has left a lasting legacy on our community. He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Erik.

Taryn Lopez, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA, Co-Vice Chair DCO DECADE Project

Eriki Hauri in Kamchatka 1
Erik Hauri on Mutnovsky volcano during the 2011 IAVCEI Commission on the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases workshop in Kamchatka. Credit: Taryn Lopez
Erik Hauri in Kamchatka 2
Erik Hauri with Tobias Fischer (left) on Mutnovsky volcano during the 2011 IAVCEI Commission on the Chemistry of Volcanic Gases workshop in Kamchatka. Credit: Taryn Lopez

Erik leaves a legacy of bold analytical leaps, peerless data, and transformative discovery. Profound insights from superlative data. And yet Erik’s legacy goes far beyond the science imprinted with his name. Erik leaves a legacy of mentorship. He never pulled punches in any exchange, but aggressively pursued scientific debate. It may seem odd to characterize that as “mentoring,” but somehow, while debating with Erik, it felt like mentoring. Erik also leaves a legacy of community action. Not only did he lead us and inspire action, he also rolled up his sleeves and audited spreadsheets, cell by cell, to get things right. Erik loved science and he loved his fellow scientists. He will be missed.

Elizabeth Cottrell, Smithsonian Institution, USA

Marion Le Voyer and Erik Hauri
Marion Le Voyer and Erik Hauri in Washington, DC, April 2018. 

I am profoundly saddened at the passing of Erik Hauri. I met Erik at the 2007 Goldschmidt Conference in Cologne, Germany, and had the honor to work with him as a DCO Postdoctoral Fellow from 2012 to 2015. Erik’s respect and guidance helped me find my own voice in science, grow confidence, and find the strength to build my own career. One of the best things about having Erik as a mentor was the freedom and trust he bestowed on me. He would let me test ideas on my own - and sometimes fail -, then guide me with constructive feedbacks toward a solution. He pushed me to be a better scientist in the most positive, caring way. He gave me the Moon, literally, by trusting me with rare lunar samples collected during the Apollo mission, and making me part of his revolutionary work on the discoveries of Moon’s water. Thanks Erik for making me dream bigger. I will miss you.

Marion Le Voyer, National Museum of Natural History, USA

He was such a kind person who had such a positive spirit, without even mentioning how supportive he was in my science. I looked forward to any opportunity I could work or just chat with him. I still remember one of my first talks at AGU, he was speaking two spots before me. I was super nervous but he was relaxed, paying attention, and drinking a beer - and it was a nice, calming moment for me, seeing one of my mentors just enjoying the opportunity to share our science. I asked him about it later and he revealed he was nervous as well.

Alexander Lloyd, Princeton University, USA

Erik Hauri was not a only a great scientist, but also a generous and inspiring father, friend and mentor. He will be missed.

Tom Wagner, NASA, USA



DTM Staff Scientist Erik Hauri Passes Away

Carnegie Institution for Science

Erik Hauri, scientist who found water on the moon, dies at 52

The Washington Post


If you would like to contribute to this page, please contact Katie Pratt of the DCO Engagement Team.

Main Image: Erik Hauri during a 2004 expedition to the Northern Marianas. This was the only expedition to collect rocks and gases from all Mariana Island in one expedition. The Mariana rocks are scientifically priceless. Credit: Tobias Fischer and Maarten de Moor



Erik Hauri’s Student and Postdoctoral Mentees

Carnegie Institution for Science

name time with Erik current position
John Lassiter 1996-1999 Professor of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas Austin, USA
William Minarik 1997-1999 Faculty Lecturer, McGill University, Canada
Aaron Pietruszka 1998-2001 Research Geologist, USGS
Karl Kehm 1999-2001 McLain Associate Professor of Physics and Environmental Science & Studies, Washington College, USA
James Van Orman 2000-2002 Professor and Chair, Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, USA
Petrus LeRoux 2000-2003 Senior Research Officer, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Katherine Kelley 2003-2005 Professor of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA
Alison Shaw 2003-2005 Senior Geochemist at Lorax Environmental
Maria Schönbächler 2003-2005 Professor of Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Julie O’Leary 2007-2009 Research Specialist at ExxonMobil
Matthew Jackson 2008-2009 Associate Professor of Earth Science, UC Santa Barbara, USA
Frances Jenner 2011-2013 Lecturer in Earth Science at the Open University, UK
Marion LeVoyer 2012-2015 Project Manager at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History
Jared Marske 2012-2015 Research and Laboratory Technician at California Institute of Technology, USA
Kei Shimizu 2016 – present  
Jonathan Tucker 2016 – present  
Shi (Joyce) Sim 2018 – present  

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

name time with Erik current position
Alberto Saal PhD 2000 Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Brown University, USA
Rhea Workman PhD 2005  
Matthew Jackson PhD 2008 Associate Professor of Earth Science, UC Santa Barbara, USA
Adam Sarafian 2015 – present  

Boston University

name time with Erik current position
Katherine Kelley PhD 2004 Professor of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA
Jennifer Wade PhD 2008 Program Officer, US National Science Foundation
Mindy Zimmer PhD 2008 Staff Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Lab, USA
Lauren Cooper PhD 2009  

Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory/Columbia University

name time with Erik current position
Philipp Ruprecht 2009-2016 Assistant Professor, University of Nevada Reno, USA
Esteban Gazel 2009-2011 Associate Professor, Cornell University, USA
Elizabeth Ferriss 2009-2014 Adaptive Management with DataMonster
David Ferguson 2011-2013 University Academic Fellow (tenure-track), University of Leeds, UK
Alexander Lloyd 2014-2017 Environmental Science Faculty, The Hun School, Princeton, USA
Megan Newcombe 2016-2018 Post-doctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science, USA
Alexander Lloyd PhD 2014 Environmental Science Faculty, The Hun School, Princeton University, USA
Claire Bendersky MPhil 2014 Movable Ink, Software Engineer
Dan Rasmussen PhD, in progress  
Anna Barth PhD, in progress  
Henry Towbin PhD, in progress  
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