Chapter 3

All at sea in the Indian Ocean


“After I’d left PrincetonPrincetonThe Department of Geology at Princeton University was led in the 1930s by Dick Field, who drove forward marine geodesy with the pioneering work of Vening Meinesz, a pioneer of marine gravity surveys from the Netherlands. Under Field’s direction, Maurice Ewing and Harry Hess took part in the 1936 research voyage to the West Indies in the submarine Barracuda, establishing the existence of negative gravity anomalies along island arcs. Field was also was a powerful advocate of Ewing’s pioneering seismic experiments at sea and he showed Ewing’s seismic data to Teddy Bullard. When Bullard returned to Madingley Rise, he introduced the idea of marine seismology to the UK. From 1950, Harry Hess ran the Department and continued the global geophysics approach. He, Jason Morgan and Bob Dietz were enthusiastic advocates of plate tectonics. in 1968, I went to sea with John SclaterJohn SclaterJohn Sclater (1940-present) was a PhD student at Madingley Rise from 1962 and shared a room with McKenzie and Bob Parker. He started work with Maurice Hill, measuring the heat flow through the ocean floor, work which he continued at Scripps where he moved as a post-doc. Teddy Bullard had been a frequent visitor to Scripps from the 1950s onwards and had designed the heat flow detector in use there. The complexity of early readings of ocean heat flow were resolved by Harry Hess’s concept of seafloor spreading; later work by Sclater supported thermal modelling of ridge spreading processes, ocean floor subsidence and the cooling of the new crust. Sclater and McKenzie worked together on the Indian Ocean in 1968. who thought I should see how the data were collected. We sailed from Colombo to Mauritius, across the Indian Ocean.” There was much less data than in the Pacific, but they thought that there was probably enough. McKenzie and Sclater 1971, a paper of 91 pages, set out the entire history of the Indian Ocean basin. “I was elected to the Royal Society because of that paper – not because of plate tectonics, which really annoyed me.”

READ  THE PAPER — McKenzie, D. & Sclater, J.G. 1971. The evolution of the Indian Ocean since the late Cretaceous. Geophysical Journal International. 24, 437-528.


Detail from figure showing a reconstruction of the Indian Ocean, 75 million years before present, used in the paper McKenzie, D & J G Sclater, “The evolution of the Indian Ocean since the late Cretaceous”, Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 24: 437-528, (1971).