Norman L. Bowen

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Norman Levi Bowen
Norman Levi Bowen (1887-1956).jpg
Norman Levi Bowen
Born Norman Levi Bowen
(1887-06-21)June 21, 1887
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Died September 11, 1956(1956-09-11) (aged 69)
Nationality Canadian
Known for Bowen's reaction series
Scientific career
Fields petrology
Institutions Carnegie Institution for Science

Norman Levi Bowen FRS[2](June 21, 1887 – September 11, 1956) was a Canadian geologist. Bowen "revolutionized experimental petrology and our understanding of mineral crystallization". Beginning geology students are familiar with Bowen's reaction series depicting how different minerals crystallize under varying pressures and temperatures."[3]


Bowen conducted experimental research at the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science of Washington from 1912 to 1937. He published The Evolution of the Igneous Rocks in 1928. This book set the stage for a geochemical and geophysical foundation for the study of rocks and minerals. This book became the petrology handbook.

Personal life

Born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Bowen married Mary Lamont in 1911, and they had a daughter, Catherine.

Awards and honours

Bowen was awarded the Penrose Medal of the Geological Society of America in 1941 and served as their president in 1945.[4] He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1949.[2]

The Norman L. Bowen Award, awarded annually by the American Geophysical Union, is named in his honour.

The astronauts of Apollo 17 named a small lunar crater after him.


  1. ^ Norman Levi BowenBiographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences
  2. ^ a b c Tilley, C. E. (1957). "Norman Levi Bowen 1887–1956". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 3: 6–26. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1957.0002. JSTOR 769349. 
  3. ^ Chamot, Josh. 100 Years of Science History., Geotimes, 3 (2002): 44–45.
  4. ^ Eckel, Edwin, 1982, GSA Memoir 155, The Geological Society of America — Life History of a Learned Society: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America Memoir 155, 168 p., ISBN 0-8137-1155-X.

Further reading

  • Norman L. Bowen, Profile. Available from:
  • Yoder, H. S., Jr. Norman L. Bowen: The Experimental Approach to Petrology. GSA Today 5 (1998): 10–11. Available:
  • Yoder, H. S., Jr. Norman L. Bowen (1887–1956), MIT Class of 1912, First Predoctoral Fellow of the Geophysical Laboratory. Earth Sciences History 1 (1992): 45–55. Available:
  • Norman Levi Bowen Papers, 1907–1980 (Bulk 1907–1955), Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., Finding aid written by: Jennifer Snyder, March 2004, PDF available:
  • Strickler, Mike, Ask GeoMan..., What is Bowen's Reaction Series?,
  • Bowen bibliography site
  • of Bowen Award winners
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