Hommage to Prof. Bor-Ming Jahn (1940-2016)

by Jian-Cheng Lee (Academia Sinica, Taiwan) and Lionel Siame (CEREGE, France)

Bor-ming Jahn (1940-2016)

Prof. Bor-ming Jahn was born on August, 24, 1940, in Miaoli, Taiwan. He graduated from National Taiwan University with a B.Sc. degree in 1963, and earned his Ph.D. degree in geology and geophysics from the University of Minnesota in 1972. After conducting postdoctoral research in the U. S., Dr. Jahn joined the faculty of the Université de Rennes 1, France, in 1976 (Geosciences Rennes), until returning to Taiwan in 2003. He was a distinguished research fellow and director of the Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, from August 2004 to September 2010. He joined the Department of Geosciences, National Taiwan University, in October, 2010, as a distinguished chair professor. From 2007 to 2011, he headed the LIA-ADEPT together with Prof. J. Angelier.

Trained as a geochemist, Dr. Jahn employs elemental and isotope geochemistry to tackle important issues like the evolution of the upper mantle, continental crust growth, genesis of magmatic rocks, geochemistry of sedimentary rocks, composition of the upper crust, evolution of the Archean craton, continental subduction, ultra-high-pressure metamorphism, geochemistry of loess, and paleoclimate change. His lifetime of research extends to all continents, but his most significant contribution has been in Asia.

Bor-Ming Jahn

Throughout his academic career, Dr. Jahn has made important contributions to the research on the Central Asian Orogenic Belt across China, Russia, and Central Asia. By presenting solid evidence for massive generation of juvenile crust in northern China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and southern Siberia (collectively termed the Central Asian Orogenic Belt), he established the region as the world’s most important site of juvenile crustal accretion in the Phanerozoic era and challenged traditional ideas about Earth’s rate of continental growth. His impressive work in this area has undoubtedly promoted a new field of study and inspired numerous research activities on this subject.

Dr. Jahn’s research on ultra-high-pressure metamorphic rocks has modified the traditional theory of plate tectonics, which held that the continental crust could not subduct. Instead, he has proven that it could subduct to a depth of 100-200 km. His analysis of the chemical composition of loess has provided a deeper understanding of research on ancient crust and paleoclimate changes. He also used Sr-Nd isotope data to argue for the continental origin of ultra-high-pressure eclogites from the Dabie Mountains of China. This work has profound implications for subduction of the continental crust.

Bor-Ming Jahn
Dr. Jahn with Jean-Alix Barrat et Serge Fourcade in Géosciences Rennes (photo by M. Ballèvre)

Dr. Jahn has independently or jointly published more than 200 peer-reviewed academic articles and been cited more than 14,800 times. He was the chief editor of the Journal of Asian Earth Sciences from 2006 to 2016. He was elected an academician of Academia Sinica in 2012, and a fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America (2004), the Geological Society of America (2004), the Geochemical Society (2006), and the European Association of Geochemistry (2006).

As a preeminent scientist, Dr. Jahn has received numerous international awards including the Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knighthood of the French Ministry of National Education) in 2008; the Prestwich Prize by the Geological Society of France in 2013; the International Prize by the Geological Society of Japan in 2014; the V.K. Ting Prize by the Geological Society of China (Taiwan) in 2015; and the Honorary Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2016.