Chapter 3

A land grab in Lamont


The success of the plate tectonics paradigm did not inspire McKenzie. “After the Indian Ocean work, I started to look at where things didn’t work. I had started this at LamontLamontLamont Geological Observatory (now Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) was established by Columbia University, New York in 1949 following a gift of land by the Lamont family. Maurice Ewing was its first director and his dedication to exploration and discovery established it as a world leader in geophysics. Ewing demanded comprehensive data collection on Lamont research voyages, building a vast store of data: the Vema alone covered more than a million miles in her working life at Lamont. Despite this, Ewing and his colleague Walter Bucher did not accept the mobilist worldview of plate tectonics. in 1967, where I did a land grab. I set about using the fault plane solutions of earthquakes in that very large area from the Azores to eastern Iran but I really wanted to see what it looked like on the ground. The place you could get to, strangely enough, rather easily at that time was Iran and Iran has the great advantage that the whole of the deformation between Arabia and Eurasia is taken up within the borders of the country so you don’t have any trouble going across borders and arguing with the Russians and so on.”

Black and white photograph showing Dan McKenzie standing in front of a Sprengnether MEQ 800 seismograph, in the Zagros Mountains, Iran, [August] 1976.
The research project overseen by McKenzie ran between August-October 1976. McKenzie travelled to Iran in August. The study trip resulted in the paper: Niazi, M and I Asudeh, G Ballard, J Jackson, G King & D McKenzie, “The depth of seismicity in the Kermanshah region of the Zagros Mountains (Iran)”, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 40: 270-274, (1978).