News Archive

posted 07/11/05

Gerard Bond, a Gifted and Tenacious Scientist, Passes Away at 65

Gerard Bond

Gerard at the Nigardsbreen Glacier in Jostedalen, Norway, August 2003.

Photo: Raymond Bradley

Gerard Clark Bond, a respected and beloved geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and resident of Pearl River, New York passed away on Wednesday June 29. He was 65.

"Gerard was one of Lamont's legendary researchers," said Michael Purdy, Director of Lamont-Doherty. "He was a great geologist whose most recent work on variations in solar radiation contributed to our fundamental understanding of changes in the Earth's climate system. He will be sorely missed by the scientific community, by Lamont and, most of all, by his family."

Gerard was one of the first geologists to recognize the importance of analyzing sediment cores taken from the deep sea for evidence of past climate shifts. In one of his most-cited works, he concluded that layers of white material found in cores from the bottom of the North Atlantic were, in fact, limestone from Eastern Canada that had been swept out to sea by glaciers and dropped to the seafloor by vast armadas of icebergs. The discovery proved to be the first confirmation that what he termed "Heinrich Events" had occurred several times during the last Ice Age and indicated that abrupt, short-term warming of the Earth's climate was more common than was thought at the time.

In 2003, Gerard received the Maurice Ewing Medal from the American Geophysical Union, an award that recognizes "significant original contributions to the scientific understanding of the processes in the ocean." At the award ceremony in San Francisco, his longtime friend and colleague, Wally Broecker, praised Gerard's characteristic tenacity and scientific insight. "He is a gifted researcher who followed his intuition that locked in the record of ice-rafted rock fragments is a treasure trove of information," Broecker said at the ceremony. "Nature carefully guards her secrets, and only with enormous effort was he able to pry them loose."

Most recently, Gerard helped demonstrate that climate changes over the last 10,000 years have been driven largely by solar variability. He did this by analyzing the effect of cosmic rays, which fluctuates inversely with solar activity, on sediment cores and comparing that to the climate record he had pried out of the North Atlantic. At the time of Gerard’s death, the paper he and his colleagues published in the journal Science in 2001 had been cited by more than 200 other studies of climate change.

Gerard received his B.S. degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio in 1962; his M.S. from the University of Alaska in 1965; and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1970. All were in geology. After teaching briefly at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. and the University of California, Davis, Gerard came to the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, as it was then known, in 1980 as a research associate and remained here for the rest of his career. Over the past 40 years, Gerard was the author of more than 80 scientific papers, many of them focusing on the causes of periodic, abrupt climate change in the Earth's history.

In addition to his most recent position as Doherty Senior Scholar, Gerard was also head of the Lamont Deep-Sea Sample Repository, one of the world's foremost collections of sediment and rock samples from beneath the ocean floor—a collection to which he made many significant contributions. Gerard was also a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and helped edit several of his field's most prestigious scientific journals, including Geology, Tectonophysics and Quaternary Science Review.

"Frank Purdue was famous for his statement, 'It takes a tough man to produce a tender chicken,'" said Wally. "Gerard Bond showed that this applied to his world as well. He was a tough man who produced brilliant science.”

Gerard is survived by his wife Ramona “Rusty” Lotti; children Derek Gerard Bond, Justin Clyde Bond and Alison Dorius Bond; stepchildren Mario Joseph Lotti and Ramona Lotti; and brothers Dwaine Bond and Wendell Bond, both geologists.

A symposium entitled “Remembering Gerard Bond” will take place at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory on Oct 19, 2005 beginning at 9:00 A.M. Directions to Lamont

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