1983 James B. Macelwane Awards: Donald J. DePaolo


  • John T. Wasson,

  • Donald J. DePaolo


We honor Don DePaolo with the Macelwane Award for several key contributions to the earth sciences. While a graduate student at Caltech Don recognized that the study of an isotopic parent—daughter pair having the same volatility and the same host phases could eliminate many of the ambiguities that had plagued previous attempts to apply isotopic data to the study of mantle reservoirs and that the 147Sm–143Nd system was such a geochemically coherent pair.

Following Gunter Lugmair's pioneering work on meteorites, Don was one of the first to work out laboratory techniques for the study of Sm and Nd; these techniques and the high-precision mass spectrometers of the Wasserburg lab allowed Don and Jerry to demonstrate in several key papers that there were at least two major mantle reservoirs and to examine earth structural models that could account for the observations. Don continues to contribute new ideas to this area; for example, in a paper in press he discusses the use of 176Lu–176Hf results to place constraints on the rate of crustal recycling.