Chapter 1

Geology, physics and ice skating


McKenzie did not enjoy first year geology. “It was really bad! So boring. All the excitement of the nineteenth century had gone.” He liked his fellow students and the staff, and particularly enjoyed fieldwork, but the focus of his studies remained in physics. McKenzie attended courses by Paul Dirac on the Dirac equation and Fred Hoyle on astrophysics, outside his main fields of study; he spent the final year on theoretical physics. “The physics course in the last year was miserable,” he says. “It was an exceedingly cold year and I spent most of it skating on the Cam. I didn’t do very well in the exams but I got to know Drum MatthewsDrum MatthewsDrum Matthews (1931–1997) was a fellow of Kings College Cambridge when McKenzie was an undergraduate. He was young and involved in College life. Drum was originally a geologist, with a PhD on the petrology of seafloor rocks. He worked extensively at sea, collecting gravity, magnetic and depth data, plus some seabed cores and samples, including on the International Indian Ocean Experiment in 1961-63. He, with Maurice Hill, influenced McKenzie to go into geophysics as a graduate student. Matthews continued in marine geophysics, and was the driving force behind the British Institutes Reflection Profiling Syndicate which obtained the first deep seismic profiles around the UK. and Maurice HillMaurice HillBorn into an academic family, Maurice Hill (1919-1966) joined the Department of Geodesy and Geophysics as a research student in 1946, after war service largely in mine-sweeping, where he had worked with Teddy Bullard. He was a Fellow of Kings College Cambridge and the undergraduate McKenzie’s Director of Studies. Hill ran the marine group at Cambridge, and was a practical instrument designer; devising methods for deep water seismic surveying and measuring seafloor magnetism. Beset by illness and alcoholism, he shot himself in 1966, aged 47. .”

Black and white photograph taken from a negative, of Dan McKenzie’s university friends setting off for a geological field trip. L-R: Kit Harrison, John Hayes and Mark Moody-Stuart [now Sir Mark Moody-Stuart]. The photograph was probably taken by McKenzie during an undergraduate field trip to Wales in 1962.