Professor Jon Woodhead

After completing his D.Phil at the University of Oxford, Jon took up a post-doctoral research position at the Australian National University in 1988. He then moved to the University of Melbourne and in 1994, with Prof Janet Hergt, set up the Isotope Geochemistry Group. This quickly gained a worldwide reputation for the broad application of isotope and trace element geochemistry to problems in the Earth and environmental sciences, with a particular emphasis on technique development and innovation in MC-ICP-MS and laser ablation technologies, mantle geochemistry, geochronology and palaeoclimate studies. Jon is currently an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow in the School of Earth Science.

Jon and his group have a prodigious publication record in many fields of isotope geochemistry. They have developed high-quality analytical protocols focussed on generating accurate data with excellent precision, highlighting and deriving corrections required for this. Isotope reference values they have published are used by the community for NIST glass and various zircon reference materials amongst others.

Our ability to determine accurately the elemental and isotopic compositions of rocks, minerals, soils and waters is central to our understanding of the processes that have formed, and continuously modify the Earth. Modern analytical techniques such as LA-ICP-MS are capable of generating huge amounts of raw data. Just processing these, let alone interpreting them geochemically has become a mammoth task. Jon and his colleagues developed a powerful data processing and visualisation freeware package, Iolite, that is now available commercially and used by geoscientists all over the world.

As well as his research on deep mantle processes and kimberlites, Jon has revolutionised international speleothem research, paving the way for precise dating of palaeoclimate records beyond 500,000 years.   

In addition to writing his own papers, from 2009 to early 2016 Jon was an outstanding Joint Editor in Chief of our journal Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, He was known to everybody as a fair-minded, diplomatic and constructive editor, who would write lengthy, closely-argued letters to authors advising on how to improve the scientific level of their papers.

Jon was awarded his Honorary Fellowship of the IAG at the Geoanalysis 2018 conference, held at Macquarie University, Sydney.