John J. Mahoney (1952-2012)
John J. Mahoney had earned a B.A. in biology from the University of Colorado in 1975. He then went back to his native Montana where he worked for a while as a carpenter. During that time John had an 'encounter' with Al Engel working on Al's house. You didn't just meet Al, you definitely had an encounter. Somehow Al had learned about John's interest in deep-sea sediments and encouraged him to apply to Scripps Institution of Oceanography for graduate work. John thought he was interested in sedimentology but once he got to Scripps in 1978 other encounters changed his mind. For his thesis he used high precision isotope data coupled with careful major and trace element analyses to probe the origins of one of the world's major flood basalt provinces, the so-called Deccan Traps of India, as well as a similar but much smaller (although also important) lava outpouring, the Rajmahal Traps (also in India). John earned his Ph.D. in 1984, spent a year at Univ. Minnesota as a postdoc, and shortly thereafter (1985) he moved to the University of Hawaii. John established a radiogenic isotope laboratory at UH and used it to pursue a wide array of research topics, including the causes and consequences of flood basalt volcanism, the formation of oceanic plateaus, linear chain volcanism in the Pacific, and magma formation at mid-ocean-ridges and Hawaiian volcanoes. He pursued related research into topics such as the dynamics of mantle melting and the use of geoneutrinos to understand Earth's internal radioactivity. He was awarded a research excellence medal by UH in 1995, and with Mike Coffin (now at Univ. Tasmania), established the Large Igneous Provinces commission of IAVCEI in 1993, stayed at its helm until 1998. He edited an influential AGU monograph on flood basalt volcanism in the 1990s and was an editor of JGR Solid Earth during the 2000s. John was a dedicated educator and mentor to graduate students and postdocs. He was also an outdoorsman and concerned about the environment. During the 2000 presidential race, he was contacted by Al Gore's team about a possible science advisory position if Gore won the election. John Joseph Mahoney died on Friday 23 November in Honolulu after a brief illness. John was a professor emeritus and research scientist in the department of Geology & Geophysics, and a lover of the natural world. He is survived by his wife Nancy; his siblings Donna Mahoney, Marla Mahoney, and Tom Mahoney, and their families; and by his three WW II jeeps. His wife, Nancy, was with him when he died. As a student and colleague John was thoughtful and polite. One never saw him get really angry - frustrated, maybe (especially with the red tape in India) but not angry. He will certainly be missed.
-Doug Macdougall, Jim Hawkins, Guenter Lugmair, and Ken Rubin (courtesy The Scripps LOG, December 7-14, 2012 vol. 48 no. 49)