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Murli Manghnani (patterned shirt) left India by ship in 1958 to attend graduate school in the U.S.

Murli Manghnani, whose work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) provided a fundamental understanding of the properties of small planetary cores, including liquids of Earth’s core, died at the age of 87 in his home country of India on August 6.

Manghnani was an emeritus professor in UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and joined HIGP in 1963 as a geophysicist. He focused his career on high-pressure mineral physics research. Among his most significant accomplishments, Manghnani discovered unique properties and structures of silicate melts in Earth’s mantle and core-related iron-rich melts.

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Murli Manghnani

“With a rare combination of deep interest, dedication, enthusiasm and collaborative spirit, Murli has been able to creatively help in establishing a world-class facility in high-pressure mineral physics research at UH Mānoa along with a cadre of faculty and researchers,” said Robert Wright, director of HIGP.

When Manghnani was 22 years old, he left Bombay, India, by ship to begin his journey to the U.S. for graduate studies in geology at Montana State University, Missoula. After completing his doctoral degree, he recalled being offered three free phone calls on his advisor’s office phone to find a postdoctoral appointment. One of these was to Professor George P. Woollard of the University of Wisconsin.

Shortly thereafter, Woollard moved to Hawaiʻi to become the inaugural director of the Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics, and Manghnani followed in 1963 to establish the High Pressure Mineral Physics Laboratory. The laboratory has long been recognized among the leading facilities for high-pressure geoscience and materials science research for more than four decades, with outstanding national and international acclaim and reputation. In the 1980s, Manghnani served as the program director for the National Science Foundation’s Experimental and Theoretical Geophysics program.

In 2017, Manghnani was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, a distinction that honors scientists “for their outstanding contributions to scholarship and discovery in the Earth and space sciences” and expanding “the realm of human knowledge.” Manghnani received this honor for his pioneering experiments on the elastic and structural properties of the molten silicates that form Earth’s mantle and the metal alloys that form the Earth’s core.

—By Marcie Grabowski

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