October 8, 2021

Edward Robert Dalton Scott was born on 22 March 1947 in Heswall, England, and died suddenly on 7 October 2021 in San Rafael, California at the age of 74. He is survived by his wife Anneliese Sullivan Scott, his two daughters, Victoria and Rosemarie, and grandchildren Theo, Octavia, and Fiona. Ed was a superb scientist with deep curiosity about the Solar System and its origin, coupled with disarming modesty, a positive personality, a subtle sense of humor, and exceptional kindness. He will be missed.

Ed received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Cambridge, England. Starting in October 1965, he was a student in the then new Churchill College, about a mile from the university lecture theatres and labs in the city centre. Like other Churchill residents making that journey morning, noon, and night, Ed became very fit and proficient on a bicycle, and pretty speedy too. Ed studied mathematics, physics, and crystallography/mineralogy for two years then, fortunately for meteoritics, he concentrated during the third year on the last of these in the Department of Mineralogy and Petrology (colloquially known as ‘Min and Pet’). Min and Pet was a big tent, spanning subjects from crystal physics through to hard-rock geology. With his background in physics, Ed focussed on X-ray crystallography, chemical thermodynamics, and mineralogy. He never took a formal geology course, but all students had to attend a field excursion to the Island of Skye during the final Easter Vacation, and there, in one of the worst weeks of wet and cold weather that Scotland has ever seen, Ian Sanders first got to know Ed as a friend.

After graduating in 1968, Ed accepted a competitive entry position with the UK’s Central Electricity Generating Board, but he then turned it down. The Meteoritical Society owes a debt of gratitude to Stuart Agrell, a lecturer in Min and Pet who had an interest in iron meteorites. Agrell had secured a modest stipend to support a PhD student (far far less than the electricity company would have paid), and yet he persuaded Ed that the pursuit of knowledge was more fulfilling than the pursuit of wealth. The rest is history: Ed went on to work on nearly every type of meteorite and published prolifically. He submitted his PhD thesis in 1971, within 3 years of starting. The outcome of the defence was never in question since, by then, he already had two Nature papers to his name (Scott, 1971, and Buchwald and Scott, 1971). That same year he joined John Wasson’s group at the University of California, Los Angeles, as a post-doc, where his research output continued to be prolific and of the highest quality, with a focus on iron meteorites. Ed left UCLA in 1975 to do research as a postdoc with Stuart Agrell in Cambridge, then spent 1978 to 1980 as a Senior Fellow in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, where he continued to elucidate the compositions, thermal histories, and diversity of iron meteorites.

In 1980, Ed became a senior research scientist at the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico, joining forces with Klaus Keil and Jeff Taylor. They formed a productive and creative research family for a decade, producing additional star meteoriticists and cosmochemists such as Alan Rubin, Tim McCoy, and Gretchen Benedix. In 1990, Klaus, Ed, and Jeff then moved to the Planetary Geoscience Division of the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics in Honolulu, dragging Tim McCoy with them. (The organizational structure evolved over time, eventually becoming the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, HIGP).  Ed retired from HIGP in 2015 and became Professor Emeritus the following year.

Ed was elected as a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society in 1977, a society he supported with staunch loyalty and great affection. On no fewer than four occasions he played a pivotal role in organizing the society’s annual meeting - Los Angeles (1974), Cambridge (1977), Albuquerque (1984), and Hawai’i (1997). He did heroic work as an associate editor for the society’s journal from 1996 to 2016, always sensitive to an author’s difficulties and generous with helpful advice. He served as Secretary, exercising diplomacy and efficiency, and paying meticulous attention to detail, from 1999 to 2004, and he served as President from 2011 to 2012.

Ed’s research is characterized by two attributes. First, it is marked by impressive breadth. Second, it reflects his extraordinary ability for identifying important problems; none of his papers was an ordinary, lackluster data dump. Throughout his career, Ed did innovative research into the nature and origin of all types of meteorite: irons, mesosiderites and pallasites, basaltic and primitive achondrites, chondritic meteorites and their components. He was a big thinker who liked complicated problems. His accomplishments were recognized by his being awarded the Leonard Medal from the Meteoritical Society in 2008. Besides this award, Ed was also recognized by having Asteroid 4854 named “Edscott” in 2000 and by having the first natural occurrence of the iron carbide Fe5C2 named after him, edscottite. (Ed’s first publication [Scott 1971] reported his discovery of a new iron carbide, (Fe,Ni)23C6, in iron meteorites.)

Ed was a major force in showing that iron meteorites are the product of crystallization in metallic magmas, almost certainly during asteroid differentiation. Working independently and with Stuart Agrell and John Wasson, Ed identified distinctive groups of iron meteorites, modelled the geochemical consequences of fractional crystallization in metallic magmas, and investigated the relation between iron meteorites and pallasites. Later, he drew attention to the role of impacts in (as he liked to say) scrambling the interiors of fractionating bodies (Scott et al., 1996). Collaborating closely with his friend Joe Goldstein at Amherst, Ed deployed his deft skills in optical and electron microscopy and microprobe analysis and made fundamental contributions to the petrography of iron in meteorites and the elucidation of meteorite cooling rates.

Over the years he expanded these studies by presenting new ideas about the histories of the mesosiderite, ureilite, and all chondrite parent bodies, especially the role impact and metamorphism played in their evolution. He was first to describe Fe,Ni-carbide-magnetite intergrowths in type 3 ordinary chondrites (Scott et al., 1981), which were subsequently interpreted as the result of aqueous alteration on the chondrite parent asteroids, providing important constraints on the oxygen isotopic compositions of aqueous fluids. With his colleagues around the world, Ed addressed many fundamental cosmochemical problems, including: (i) metasomatic alteration of CV chondrites (Krot et al., 1995);  (ii) the formation of ferroan olivine in matrices of type 3 ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites during fluid-assisted thermal metamorphism (Krot et al., 1997); (iii) variable oxygen isotopic compositions of gaseous reservoirs in the protoplanetary disk (McKeegan et al., 2001); (iv)  radial transport of crystalline silicates in the protoplanetary disk (Scott et al., 2005); (v) formation of chondrules during planetesimal collision (Sanders & Scott, 2018); (vi) isotopic dichotomy among meteorites and its implications for the evolution of the protoplanetary disk (Scott et al., 2018); and (vii) the impact history and dynamical evolution of chondritic and differentiated asteroids. The shock classification scheme for ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites developed by Ed with colleagues Dieter Stöffler and Klaus Keil is widely used in meteorite research (Stöffler et al., 1991; Scott et al., 1992).

Ed’s prowess in research and the development of new ideas was shown by his discovery with colleagues Richard Greenwood and Ian Franchi at the Open University (UK) that the eucrite group of differentiated meteorites does not come from one parent asteroid (Scott et al., 2009). This unsettled many of us because we thought they all came from a single asteroid, 4 Vesta, which was visited by the Dawn mission. Most of the eucrites might come from Vesta, but many do not, showing that basaltic volcanism took place on more than one asteroid.

Ed may have concentrated on deciphering events in the early Solar System, but he also investigated some interesting Martian problems. The famous report of evidence for fossil life in Martian meteorite ALH 84001 (McKay et al., 1996) sparked huge press coverage and a flood of skepticism and debate, including from Ed. He started working on the rock, receiving an NSF grant to test formation of magnetite (a supposed biomarker) in it. Along with Dave Barber at the University of Greenwich (UK), Ed made extensive optical and electron microscopic (scanning and transmission) and electron microprobe measurements of the tiny magnetite crystals and found that they were accompanied by minute magnesium oxide crystals, as expected for exsolution from iron-magnesium carbonates (Scott, 1999; Barber and Scott, 2002). Deposition of magnetite from Martian microorganisms was not required; heating the rock by shock was. It was a major discovery.

Ed’s two most recent papers appeared online within just a few days of his death. Both are contributions to the John Wasson memorial issue of Meteoritics and Planetary Science, an issue which Ed, in his unselfish way, helped to organize. Those two papers show that his span of interests and depth of understanding remained undiminished to the end – one paper tackles the puzzling issue of isotopic contrasts between Allende’s chondrules and matrix (Sanders and Scott, 2021), and the other shows striking new insights into the cooling history of IAB iron meteorites (Goldstein et al. 2021). We hope these will not be the last times that Ed’s name appears in print as an author, for a glance at his swathe of recent conference abstracts shows that he has poked sticks into many hornet’s nests and, to mix a metaphor, raised hares whose chasing will keep many of his friends active for years to come as they investigate the new and imaginative ideas he has initiated.

 There was nothing stodgy about Ed Scott. He and Anneliese were great hosts. They even hosted their own going away party after Ed had retired from HIGP and they decided to move to northern California to be closer to their daughters and their families. Ed’s party spirit started in Cambridge. One year, in helping to organize a departmental Christmas party on a small budget and with gin being expensive, Ed managed to ‘acquire’ with the help of his flat mate, a PhD student in biochemistry, two litres of 96% ethanol, decanted into milk bottles. Added to the punch, it raised the spirit of the party in more ways than one. A great event that epitomizes Ed’s kindness and imagination is his naming of a party he and Anneliese hosted to celebrate Jeff’s future wife’s (Twyla) move to Albuquerque in 1987. In the news that year was the alignment of the Sun, Moon, and six planets, which sparked numerous New-Age gatherings in spiritual places around the world. It was named the Harmonic Convergence. Ed’s invitation explained that the purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the Harmonic Convergence of Twyla and Jeff!

We will miss party Ed, creative Ed, kind Ed. Ed was an exceptional scientist and a wonderful human being. We are fortunate to have known him as a friend, colleague, and mentor. Our consolation is that his scientific legacy lives on in all of us.


G. Jeffrey Taylor1, Ian Sanders2, Alexander N. Krot1, Gary R. Huss1, and Klaus Keil1

1Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu HI 96822.

2 Department of Geology, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.



Barber D. J. & Scott E. R. D. (2003) Transmission electron microscopy of minerals in the Martian meteorite Allan Hills 84001. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 38, 831-848.

Buchwald V.F. & Scott E.R.D. (1971) First nitride (CrN) in iron meteorites. Nature Physical Science, 233, 113-114.

Goldstein, J.I., Scott, E.R.D., Winfield T.B., & Yang, J. (2021). Cooling rates and impact histories of group IAB and other IAB complex iron meteorites inferred from zoned taenite and the cloudy zone. Meteoritics & Planetary Science Version of Record online: 18 October 2021 https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13745.

Krot A.N., Scott E.R.D., & Zolensky M.E. (1995) Mineralogical and chemical modification of components in CV3 chondrites: nebular or asteroidal processing? Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 30, 748-775.

Krot A.N., Scott E.R.D., & Zolensky M.E. (1997) Origin of fayalitic olivine rims and lath-shaped matrix olivine in the CV3 chondrite Allende and its dark inclusions. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 32, 31-49.

McKay D. S., Gibson, E. K., Thomas-Keprta, K. L., Vali, H., Romanek, C. S., Clemett, S. J. Chillier, X. D., Maehiling, C. R., & Zare, R. N., (1996) Search for past life on Mars: possible relic biogenic activity in martian meteorite ALH84001. Science, 273, 924-930. doi: 10.1126/science.273.5277.924

McKeegan K. D., Krot A. N., & Scott E. R. D. (2001) Variable oxygen isotopic compositions of gaseous reservoirs: Clues to the formation of CAIs and chondrules. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 36, A129.

Sanders I. S. & Scott E. R. D. (2018) Making chondrules by splashing molten planetesimals: the dirty impact plume model. In Chondrules, S. S. Russell, H. C. Connolly, and A. N. Krot editors. Cambridge University Press. pp 361-374.

Sanders I. S. & Scott E. R. D. (2021) Complementary nucleosynthetic isotope anomalies of Mo and W in chondrules and matrix in the Allende carbonaceous chondrite: The case for hydrothermal metamorphism and its implications. Meteoritics and Planetary Science Version of Record online:07 October 2021  https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13742.

Scott, E. R. D. (1971) New carbide, (Fe,Ni)23C6, found in iron meteorites. Nature Physical Science, 229, 61-62.

Scott E. R. D. (1999) Origin of carbonate-magnetite-sulfide assemblages in Martian meteorite ALH84001. Journal of Geophysical Research, 104, 3803-3813.

Scott E.R.D., Rubin A.E., Taylor G.J. & Keil K. (1981) New kind of type 3 chondrite with a graphite-magnetite matrix. Earth & Planetary Science Letters, 56, 19-31.

Scott E.R.D., Keil K., & Stöffler D. (1992) Shock classification of carbonaceous chondrites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica. Acta, 56, 4281-4293.

Scott E.R.D., Haack H., & McCoy T.J. (1996) Core crystallization and silicate-metal mixing in the parent body of the IVA iron and stony-iron meteorites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica. Acta, 60, 1615-1631.

Scott E. R. D. & Krot A. N. (2005) Chondritic meteorites and the high-temperature nebular origins of their components. In Chondrites and the Protoplanetary Disk, A. N. Krot, E. R. D. Scott, and B. Reipurth editors, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, 341, 15-53.

Scott E. R. D., Greenwood R. C., Franchi I. A. & Sanders I. S. (2009) Oxygen isotopic constraints on the origin and parent bodies of eucrites, diogenites, and howardites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73, 5835-5853.

Scott E. R. D., Krot A. N. & Sanders I.S. (2018) Isotopic dichotomy among meteorites and its bearing on the protoplanetary disk. The Astrophysical Journal, 854 (2), 164.

Stöffler D., Keil K., & Scott E.R.D. (1991) Shock metamorphism of ordinary chondrites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 55, 3845-3867.

Categories: In Memoriam

Tags: Obituary, News