John Delaney completed a degree in geology at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, before going to the University of Virginia for a master's degree. As an ore deposit geologist in Maine, he became fascinated with processes that concentrate metals. Gravitating to the heart of the copper mining industry, he searched for base and precious metals in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, while studying economic geology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. After six months living in and working on active volcanoes of the western Galapagos Islands, he decided to study active volcanism for the rest of his life, and completed a dissertation on submarine volcanic gases.
His research and teaching have focused on active submarine volcano-hydrothermal systems along the global spreading-center network. In 1980 a unique set of rocks from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge recovered aboard Alvin provided clear evidence that seafloor fracturing and mineral deposition was identical to quartz veins beneath massive copper-iron sulfide deposits on land-bringing Delaney full circle to his orignial geological interests. The recognition that submarine volcanic gases provide an essential nutrient source for the microbial communities that are the base of the chemosynthetic food chain at ridge crest took another of his original research pursuits in exciting, unanticipated direction.
Delaney enjoys poems of haiku poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)-a master at capturing the essence of an experience in very few words:
Breaking the silence of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water.
Whether the pond is only a pond, or the pond is a mind and the frog is an idea, is left to the reader. In many ways, the simplicity and elegance of such distillation is akin to what scientists strive to extract from their observations.