Chapter 2

McKenzie and Morgan

“Jason certainly has priority but he did it in a completely different way.”


When McKenzie left ScrippsScrippsScripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, California was established to support marine biological research, but from 1908 onwards pioneered geophysical research in the oceans. Teddy Bullard was a frequent visitor and undertook early ocean floor heat flow measurements with Roger Revelle. In 1962 the University of California established the new Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics alongside Scripps in La Jolla. , he went to work 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. and it was there, towards the end of 1967, that he discovered that MorganMorganJason Morgan (1935-present) took his PhD at Princeton where he spent most of his career. His work on plate tectonics, published 1968, focused on magnetic anomaly data, in contrast to McKenzie’s application of fault slip directions; they are fundamentally the same theory. Morgan went on to apply and refine Tuzo Wilson’s ideas about hot spots and mantle plumes, together with mantle convection. had been working independently on the same topic, and had talked about it months before at AGU. “I tried to delay the publication of the paper in Nature, but it was too late.” It is unsurprising that different authors lighted on the same ideas at the same time. McKenzie and Morgan had taken a very similar theoretical approach to plate geometry, but had focused on different data. “Jason certainly has priority,” said McKenzie, “but he did it in a completely different way; he didn’t use the earthquakes at all. He used the magnetic anomalies, which he had much more access to than I did.”

Letter to the Editor of Nature, 22 December 1967.