D.P. McKenzie, D.H.Matthews, F.J.Vine

1981 Balzan Prize for Geology and Geophysics

Distinguished for their outstanding joint contribution to earth sciences, in particular, for their work on sea floor spreading and continental drift, and the development of the theory of plate tectonics.

Dan Peter McKenzie
Born on February 21, 1942.
Professor of Tectonics (since 1979) at Cambridge University.
Member of the Royal Society since 1976.

Frederick John Vine
Born on June 17, 1939 in Chiswick, west London, England.
Professorial Fellow, University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Sciences.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974.
Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, since 1974, he served as Dean of the School of Environmental Sciences from 1977-80 and 1993-98. He obtained his BA and PhD degrees from Cambridge University (1959-65) and then spent five years in a teaching position at Princeton University, before joining UEA, Norwich, as a Reader, in 1970.
Together with his PhD supervisor at Cambridge, Drummond Matthews (1931 – 1997), he proposed that the linear magnetic anomalies in oceanic areas might result from a combination of sea floor spreading, about mid-ocean ridge crests, and reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field. Although a very radical explanation at the time it was proposed, within a few years it was widely accepted, following the definition of the timescale of reversals for the past 3.5 million years. This in turn led to the general acceptance of the concepts of sea-floor spreading and continental drift.

In 1968, with Eldridge Moores, he initiated a study of the Troodos mountains igneous massif of southern Cyprus, which they interpreted as an upthrust slice of ocean crust and uppermost mantle formed by sea floor spreading. This led to a long-term study of the physical properties and internal structure of this massif, and their possible relevance to the present-day ocean floor.

Studies of the ‘fossil’ (palaeo) magnetism of rocks have been a common thread throughout much of his research, although a completely separate strand, resulting from a collaboration started in the 1970’s with Russell Ross, concerned laboratory measurements of the electrical conductivity of rocks of the lower continental crust.

Selected articles:

– Vine F.J. and Matthews D.H. Magnetic anomalies over oceanic ridges. Nature 199, 947-949, 1963.
– Vine F.J. Spreading of the ocean floor: new evidence. Science 154, 1405-1415, 1966.
– Vine F.J. and Hess H.H. Sea-floor spreading. In: The Sea – Vol. IV, pt 2. edited by A.E. Maxwell. Wiley-Interscience, New York. p.587-622, 1971.
– Moores E.M. and Vine F.J. The Troodos Massif, Cyprus, and other ophiolites as oceanic crust; evaluation and implications. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond. A 268, 443-466, 1971.
– Vine F.J. and.Moores E.M. A model for the gross structure, petrology and magnetic properties of oceanic crust. Geol. Soc. Amer. Memoir 132, 195-205, 1972.
– Gromme S. and Vine F.J. Palaeomagnetism of Midway Atoll lavas and the northward movement of the Pacific Plate. Earth Planet. Sci. Letters 17, 159-168, 1972.
– Vine F.J. Organic diversity, palaeomagnetism and Permian palaeogeography. In: Organisms and continents through time. Edited by N.F. Hughes. Spec. Pap. Palaeont. 12, 241-269, 1973.
– Vine F.J. The continental drift debate. Nature 266, 19-22, 1977.
– Lee C.D., Vine F.J. and Ross R.G. Electrical conductivity models for the continental crust based on laboratory measurements on high-grade metamorphic rocks. Geophys. J. Roy. Astr. Soc. Lond. 72, 353-371, 1983.
– Livermore R.A., Vine F.J. and Smith A.G. Plate motions and the Geomagnetic Field- II. Jurassic to Tertiary. Geophys. J. Roy. Astr. Soc. Lond. 79, 939-961, 1984.
– Allerton S. and Vine F.J. Spreading evolution of the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus. Geology 19, 637-640, 1991.
– Glover P.W.J. and Vine F.J. Electrical conductivity of the continental crust. Geophys, Res. Letters 21, 2357-2360, 1995.
– Kearey P. and Vine F.J. Global Tectonics (Second Edition). Blackwell Science, Oxford, 333pp.

(December 2001)

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