RIP: Theodore “Ted” Bunch of the Comet Research Group

In celebration of a life well lived, I report the death in April of Ted Bunch, an original and essential member of the Comet Research Group. I apologize for not sharing the news earlier and recommend his obituary here.

Ted Bunch worked tirelessly for nearly two decades to produce hard data concerning the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. Among many other highly technical skills he was an expert microscopist and geochemical investigator, as demonstrated here in a critical 2012 paper from the CRG, Bunch et. al. These skills were also valuable to NASA where Ted was employed as Section Chief in Exobiology, from which he retired after 30 years.

He earned his doctorate in 1966; the year the Tusk was born. But I found his name on groundbreaking research dating all the way back to 1961; here is a paper in Science Magazine (long before Science was ruined).

Ted was an expert in “shocked quartz,” a critical impact proxy which was the subject of his dissertation. Due to Ted, shocked quartz is a signature for major cosmic ground impacts — and coming soon — airbursts. TE Bunch coauthored a paper on the subject of shocked quartz with the CRG which will be in print very soon, published posthumously on a subject he mastered while JFK was president.

Ted also had a special role as a world-class expert in meteorite identification and classification. He and Dr. James Wittke identified and classified thousands of meteorites (and meteorwrongs;) at the North Arizona Meteorite Laboratory. Over his life he published well over 250 papers, and capped it off with the best evidence ever, for the Younger Dryas Impact.

An admirably vigorous man throughout his life, Ted had five daughters, including twins who are twenty or so and the age of my daughter. I recall talking with him when we were both driving our girls to volleyball practice a few years ago, and he was over two decades my senior.

It requires an increasingly rare intellectual courage and physical hardiness to live Ted’s life. On behalf of this blog and some of his many friends, I would like to extend condolences to his family and remind them how much we admired him.



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