Peter Hale Molnar

August 25, 1943June 23, 2022

Peter Hale Molnar, age 78, of Lyons, Colorado passed away on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Peter was born August 25, 1943.

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  • Peter Molnar with Matt Kohn in Argentina

    Thure Cerling


    Peter was a great inspiration and great friend. He could always be counted on for good conversation, and always could get immediately to the question at hand. He was great fun in the field - always could be counted on for helping to get to question of the day, leading to the next day, and the next. He especially enjoyed making science and life fun!

  • Paresh Nath Singha Roy


    Prof Peter Molnar Sir was one of the Geoscience icon. I came to know him by reading his research paper. But I was fortunate to meet him first time during 2-week intensive summer school at ICTP on scaling laws in geodynamics during 2011. His field knowledge was extensive. Our course was balanced with his real field examples. One of the personal memory to share about his great memory and love for Himalayan Geology. During casual discussion, I told him that I work in Kumoan Himalaya (West of Nepal) up to the Munsiyari. Then he shared his memory of his Panchuli Glacier trekking that started from Munsiyari for 15 days. Sir we will miss you. I pray to almighty to give strength to your loved ones for this great loss . May your noble soul rest in peace. Roy Prof Paresh Nath Singha Roy(P N S Roy) Department of Geology and Geophysics IIT, Kharagpur

  • ICTP summer school- 2011

    Abdelkrim (Karim) Aoudia


    I met Peter in Tibet more than 15 years ago and I was lucky to share a tent with him for almost a week. Since then Peter has been a "reference frame" for my own science and for a large number of young students in Earth system physics that came through the ICTP here in Trieste. In 2011 Peter and Sara joined us and stayed with us for more than 2 weeks. Peter directed a 2-week intensive summer school on scaling laws in geodynamics. This was an amazing experience and the foto attached here pictures Peter and a number of PhD students and early career scientists that attended the school. Peter's rigor in science will continue inspire all of us Earth scientists. I miss Peter very much. Un abbraccio a Sara!

  • Susan Peirce


    We are friends of Peter and Sara, having lived near them outside of Lyons until we moved to Santa Fe in 2017. Peter was an extraordinary person; so renown in his field and yet so gracious and humble in his personal life. He and Sara were constantly hosting people from the world over in their home. His love of nature and life were palpable and his desire to research, learn more, explore and contribute were overwhelming. His joy in the natural world was contagious and he explored it all with the eyes of a child and mind of a genius. His interests expanded beyond his beloved Geology to Music, the love of which he shared with my husband Roger as they both enjoyed classical music and the tangos of Piazzolla. We will deeply miss Peter and our hearts are with Sara for her enormous loss.

  • Gregory Houseman


    I met Peter at Cambridge when I was doing my PhD in 1980. Since then he has been friend, mentor, colleague and inspiration, though we live in different parts of the world. He and Sara welcomed me and my family into their home multiple times and we were fortunate to share experiences with them in locations like Trieste where Peter organised a great summer school, a visit to the Franz Josef Glacier in Austria, or New Zealand, where we made a memorable crossing of Tongariro. His drive, insight and rigour contributed to an incredible scientific productivity that changed how we understand our planet. His ability to create effective international collaborations around exciting scientific questions ensured that his legacy will continue to be felt in many parts of the world.

  • Bob Engdahl


    It was in the early 1970's when I first met Peter. We both there for a meeting which I have long since forgotten about. Anyway Peter and I got together one evening as two young men with dreams about our future careers in science. He talked about mountain building and understanding the physics of the Earth, and I went on about how I wanted to follow-up on the work of Jeffreys and Bullen in building a better velocity model of the Earth. In a sense we both fulfilled those dreams with many diversions along the way. Surprisingly late in life we both ended up at the University of Colorado, he in Geological Sciences and me in Physics. We both participated together in several conferences at CU and occasionally met socially with our wives. He was a unique individual and an inspiration to those who knew him, leaving an imprint on our science that would be hard to match.

  • Hector Mora-Paez


    From Bogotá, Colombia, South America, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us, for granting me the privilege of your friendship. We carry you forever in our hearts. I remember our discussions about Rienzi, Wagner's opera and my pet's name. Sara, I accompany you in these moments of sadness.

  • James Ni


    I met Peter at the 1977 Erik Norin Penrose Conference on Tibet in snow covered Woodstock, Vermont (March 20-24). Peter and Kevin Burke were the conveners. Skiing down Mt. Killington with John Dewey and Augusta Gansser and a snowball fight at the end of the conference with Peter and Paul Tapponnier were part of the highlights at that meeting. I had a wonderful week of discussion on the tectonics and making of the world’s highest plateau and mountain with Peter and the brightest minds in the world. This meeting gave me more incentive to discover the hidden mystery of Tibet. The following year I published the first seismotectonic paper on the recent uplift of the Tien Shan. Peter reviewed that paper before I submitted it. At that time, I was mapping faults in China from Landsat imageries and discovered a series of evenly space N-S trending normal faults in southern Tibet. Northern Tibet is characterized by both strike-slip faulting and normal faults. The question was what process that caused these normal faults. It started my 40 years of career in earth sciences. Peter is about two years older than me and we had the same advisor - Jack Oliver. I am still trying to figure out what forces that drives the SW convergence between India and Burma micro-plate. It probably is a consequence of the collapse of an elevated Plateau. I was going to call Peter about the forces acting on Indian slab are no longer driving the subduction processes beneath Burma. I did not know he was sick. Another topic both Peter and I are interested in is how much Indian continent went down beneath Tibet and where is the Indian oceanic slab? I hope with my colleagues we can solve this puzzle soon. This would conclude a chapter of our efforts in some aspect of continental tectonics. Thank you for all your help and suggestions on our research topics and publications on the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions.

  • Minmin Fu


    My condolences to Peter’s loved ones. Peter has been a great mentor, colleague, and friend over the past two years that I have known him. I am so happy that I had the chance to work with him and get to know him through our collaboration on paleoclimate research. We began corresponding through email and video calls in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, and he has always shown the greatest kindness and support in addition to his scientific brilliance. His breadth of knowledge and passion for doing good science has inspired me greatly. Unfortunately due to the pandemic I never got the chance to meet him in person, which is one of my biggest regrets. I was planning to visit him just a few weeks later in July, but sadly he is no longer with us. I will miss his long emails where he would elaborate on his scientific thoughts, generously sharing ideas and his encyclopedic knowledge of the scientific literature. His warmth and kindness makes me feel as if I have been friends with him for much longer, and he will be deeply missed.

  • Narayana A. C.


    Peter Molnar, is an extraordinary earth scientist that I have ever come across in my academic life. It is my fortune that I worked with him in the Western Ghats of India on a couple of field visits. My association with him helped me to learn the dynamics of the earth, mountain building activity, and perception of science in general. Of late, we used to discuss on the paleoclimate studies in the context of India and other tropical countries. I wrote him a mail on 20th June 2022 informing him that right now I am in Boston and visiting my son. But the reply never came. I was wondering for no-response, which never happened in the last 20 years. He normally used to reply within a day for all my mails. It is a great loss to the earth science community across the world and we can never get another Peter Hale Molnar. I Pray God for his soul to rest in peace. A.C. Narayana, Honorary Professor, Centre for Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India.

  • German Ojeda


    My sincere condolences to Peter's loved ones. It feels like yesterday when we climbed together the Sierra del Cocuy in eastern Colombia. Years before we geologic-toured the Sierra de Santa Marta. Wonderful memories. He generously shared his rock-solid geophysical explanations on how mountains are born. Thanks Peter for explaining Earth to us. German Yury Ojeda

  • Klaus Jacob


    Peter was and will remain one of 2 or 3 of my dearest friends and colleagues ever. We ventured through the Nevada desert to record the shakings and aftershocks of the underground nuclear explosion Benham, We dug through snowdrifts in the Maroon Bells when a storm threatened to strand us during an overnight high-elevation hike after an AGU Chapman conference in Aspen CO. We had heated political discussions with his stern father during a New Year's celebration at his parents' NJ home. I took him in for temporary shelter when his first marriage broke up. We wrote a few papers together; shared opera, and a winter crossing on skis of the the New Hampshire Presidential Range. And shared but too few short hours with his beloved Sara. His ever restless mind and body has finally found a place to rest. I deeply mourn the loss of a true friend.