2022 G. K. Gilbert Award

Presented to Allan H. Treiman

Allan H. Treiman

Allan H. Treiman
Lunar and Planetary Institute, Universities Space Research Association


Citation by Justin Filiberto

Dr. Treiman is eminently deserving of the G.K. Gilbert Award for his large body of work addressing fundamental problems in planetary and terrestrial geology. Allan’s research has made significant impacts in many broad fields including: the terrestrial petrology focusing on carbonatites, Martian meteorite petrology, lunar meteorite petrology, Venus geochemistry and petrology, Martian surface alteration from meteorites and in situ rover (Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover and Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover) investigations, meteorite petrology, among many others. To emphasize how Allan’s science is the ‘broadest’ sense of planetary geology, one only has to look at the path he has taken. Allan’s master’s thesis is on terrestrial metamorphic geology of New Mexico. From there, he did a PhD on terrestrial carbonatite petrogenesis. After graduating with his PhD in terrestrial geology, he began a postdoc and his foray into planetary geology. This research led to some of his most highly cited papers about core formation in the shergottite parent body (Mars) and petrology of clasts in lunar meteorite breccia ALH 81005. Continuing his path into planetary geology eventually led to him investigating evidence for Martian alteration in a Martian meteorite. Since that time, Allan has continued his expanding his work on petrology of meteorites to include amphibole-bearing asteroid samples, as well as broadening his research to include rock-water chemical reactions on Mars as evidence in Martian meteorites and investigated in situ with two Mars rovers (Curiosity and Perseverance); Volatile contents of the lunar interior; Origin of the lunar highlands; and Surface-atmosphere interactions on Venus. As a colleague pointed out ‘there truly is no rock in the solar system that is safe from Allan’. Beyond his strong and diverse scientific interest, Allan also fosters the next generation of planetary scientists by not only discussing new ideas with them, but encouraging them to take the idea, build on it, and continue developing it.


Response by Allan H. Treiman

Thank you Dr. Filiberto, the G.K. Gilbert committee, and the PGD of GSA for this honor. As Justin notes, I have worked across the inner solar system, applying chemistry and physics to whatever rock or landscape aroused interest. In concept, that was Gilbert’s approach to geology, though I would never claim membership in his pantheon. Goaded by this award, I finally read Gilbert’s monograph “Geology of the Henry Mountains,” a classic in igneous geology. The monograph is, of course, superb – both in the clarity of his observations and calculations, and in the manner of presentation. What could have been a tedious recitation of observations is instead a construction from skeleton outward to skin, a story of mountain building and destruction. Through the story, Gilbert lets slip glimpses of his wit, reminding us that science is human and that life continues outside the monograph.

It has been a long strange trip. From a math major at Chicago, to a chemistry B.A. at Pomona with a late-realized passion for geology. At Stanford, I rejected paleontology for metamorphic petrology with Dick Jahns, and took my PhD at Michigan with Eric Essene (carbonatites being marginally interesting). Next was Arizona, on a postdoc with Mike Drake where he dropped the first lunar meteorite on me. With a piece of the Moon in my hand, I was hooked on planetary science, and seized then on martian meteorites. After failing to profess, I took a senior post-doc at Johnson Space Center (thanks to John H. Jones) to continue with the martians. I was then hired by the Lunar and Planetary Institute, which has been my home ever since. At the LPI, I’ve had the freedom to pursue all the interesting rocks and landscapes, from asteroids to Venus, including the infamous martian meteorite ALH 84001 (may it rest in pieces). Through that infamy, I reconnected with David Blake, whom I knew from Michigan. That let to field seasons on Svalbard, and an invitation to join Dave on the Mars Science Lab spacecraft mission; of course, I accepted! Working with him and his CheMin instrument led to participation in the Mars 2020 mission. My life now is filled with those rovers, and connecting their results to the martian meteorites and Earth’s geology through the principles of chemistry and petrology.

Among these plot twists, I’ve had great fun and survived some angst. If anything can be learned from my checkered career, I would say that persistence matters, that colleagues are to be cherished, and that luck happens and should be seized. Above all, there is treasure everywhere! Looking back, I’ve derived huge satisfaction from working with students, mostly undergraduates and post-docs as the LPI allows. It is an enduring pleasure to watch them grow and succeed, whether or not they follow our paths in science. Few of us will be remembered the way that G.K. Gilbert is; our contributions and legacy are the enthusiasm, methods, and ideas we give our students. May they exceed our accomplishments at every turn.