Bodnar, Robert J. (earth scientist)

(1949- ) American Geochemist

When a mineral crystallizes, it can trap a minute bubble of fluid, melt, and/or vapor that is present during the crystallization process, whether igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary during dia-genesis (lithification). This encapsulated bubble is called a fluid inclusion. The fluid within it tells geologists something about the composition of the fluid that accompanied the crystallization of a pluton or the metamorphism of a terrane, or the mineralization of a vein, among other things. Heating or cooling the inclusion until all of the liquids and gases combine on a stage attached to a microscope may use an experimentally determined “isochore” to determine the pressure and temperature of formation as well. There are many Earth scientists who study fluid inclusions. Robert Bodnar is a pioneer in the production of synthetic fluid inclusions to model those formed in nature. By experimentally reproducing fluid inclusions, Bodnar determines the conditions of their formation. This experimental process allows him to understand and develop models for fluid/rock and fluid/magma interactions at crustal and upper mantle conditions. Bodnar has written numerous papers on the uses and relations of synthetic fluid inclusions, including “Synthetic Fluid Inclusions in Natural Quartz II,” and “Applications to Pressure-Volume-Temperature Studies.”

To conduct the analyses on the fluid inclusions, Robert Bodnar established the Fluids Research Laboratory at Virginia Tech. In addition to the experimental apparatus and standard cooling-heating stages, there is a Laser Raman Microprobe and a Fourier Transform Infrared Microprobe to determine the composition of the inclusions. Bodnar has worked on a variety of projects from around the world and beyond. He studied fluid inclusions in the proposed Martian meteorites. Terrestrial projects include fluids from the Somma-Vesuvius volcanic system, melt inclusions from Ischia in Naples, Italy, the volcanic system of White Island of New Zealand, among others. Closer to home he worked on problems in the southern Appalachians and in Massachusetts. He also works extensively on economic deposits. He studied the genesis of Egyptian gold deposits as well as sulfide deposits in Ducktown, Tennessee, and porphyry copper and precious metal deposits in Wyoming; Arizona; New South Wales, Australia; Gyeongsang Basin, South Korea; and the Morning Star deposit in California, among others. He also studied inclusions in the Marmarosh Diamonds and mantle xenoliths from the folded Carpathian Mountains of eastern Europe. In terms of petroleum exploration, he has worked on problems in the North Sea oil province as well as the Monterey Formation in California, among others. Papers on economic deposits include “Hy-drothermal Fluids and Hydrothermal Alteration in Porphyry Copper Deposits” and “Fluid Inclusion Studies in Hydrothermal Ore Deposits.”

Robert Bodnar was born on August 25, 1949, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, where he grew up. He attended the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in geology in 1979. He undertook graduate studies at the University of Arizona and earned a master of science degree in 1978. Upon graduation, he obtained a position as research assistant with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia, in the experimental geochemistry and mineralogy section. Robert Bodnar got married in 1979; he and his wife have two children. By 1980, he heeded the advice of his colleagues and returned to graduate school at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park. He earned a Ph.D. in geochemistry in 1985 as an advisee of EDWIN ROEDDER from the U.S. Geological Survey. Bodnar obtained a position as research scientist at the Chevron Oil Field Research Company of Chevron, U.S.A., in La Habra, California, in 1984. In 1985, he was offered and accepted a faculty position at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg where he remains today. He has been named to a prestigious C. C. Garvin endowed chair in 1997 and later as a university distinguished professor.

Robert Bodnar is an author of some 120 scientific articles in international journals, professional volumes, and major governmental and industry reports. Included in these well-cited and seminal papers on all aspects of fluids and melts in geology are the benchmark papers on synthetic fluid inclusions. In recognition of his many contributions to Earth sciences, Robert Bodnar has received several honors and awards in addition to those already mentioned. He received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, the Lindgren Award from the Society of Exploration Geologists, and the Alumni Award for Research Excellence from Virginia Tech. Pennsylvania State University named him a Centennial Fellow, and the Society of Exploration Geologists named him a Thayer Lindsley Lecturer.

Bodnar has served on committees and panels for the Geochemical Society, the Mineralogical Society of America and the National Science Foundation. Among his editorial work was the position of associate editor of Geology.

Next post:

Previous post: