Harry H. Hess Medal
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Career Stage
Award Type
Union Medal
Of Note
Confers Union Fellowship;
Peer OR self-nomination permitted
Submission Window
17 January - 1 March
Established 1985

Recognizing Outstanding Achievements in Research on the Constitution and Evolution of the Earth and Other Planets

The Harry H. Hess Medal is given annually to a senior scientist in recognition of outstanding achievements in research on the constitution and evolution of the Earth and other planets. Recipients of this award typically conduct research in the following disciplines: Earth and planetary surface processes, mineral rock physics, planetary sciences, study of the Earth’s deep interior, tectonophysics, volcanology, geochemistry, and petrology.

The Hess Medal is named in honor of Harry H. Hess, who made many contributions to geology, mineralogy, and geophysics. Hess served multiple terms as an AGU section president — for the Geodesy section (1950–1953) as well as the Tectonophysics section (1956–1959). He made major contributions to the study of the oceanic lithosphere, including the concept that convection cells in the mantle were the driving force for seafloor spreading.

Honor Benefits
Recipients receive the following:

  • An engraved medal
  • Induction into the AGU College of Fellows Induction into the AGU College of Fellows (if the honoree has been an AGU member for three consecutive years and is not already a Fellow with exceptions allowed in cases of financial hardship as determined by AGU)
  • Recognition at AGU's annual meeting the year the honor is awarded
  • Four hotel nights and two tickets to the Honors Banquet at AGU's annual meeting the year the honor is awarded

Criteria for a Successful Nomination

  • The quality and impact of the nominee’s work on their field.
  • The extent to which the nominee’s work reaches a broad or traditionally underrepresented audience.
  • The originality/innovative nature of the nominee’s work.


The nominee must be an experienced senior scientist who is an established leader in their field.
Nominators must be active AGU members.
All Parties
Must be in compliance with AGU's conflict of interest and professional conduct policies.
Read AGU's Ethics Policies