Chapter 2

The Bullard fit


BullardBullardMcKenzie’s PhD supervisor, Edward Crisp Bullard (1907 – 1980), was a noted experimental physicist who devised innovative equipment and developed a dynamo theory to model the origin of the Earth’s magnetic field. He was a student of Ernest Rutherford and a pioneer of marine geophysics in the UK. He was head of the Department of Geodesy and Geophysics at Cambridge through the 1960s, noted as a good leader who supported his staff, always managing to find a little money to get a student to a significant conference or to kick-start a new project. , Everett and Smith in 1965 used new technology – the Cambridge University mainframe computer – to fit together the continents on each side of the Atlantic. The modern methods and computer-drawn maps gave this work a deliberate distance from earlier ideas of continental drift, but the authors state in their abstract: “These fits are thought not to be due to chance …These geometrical fits are regarded as preliminary to a comparison of the stratigraphy, structures, ages and palaeomagnetic results across the joins.”

Bullard fit, redrawn artwork for the paper: McKenzie, D, “Plate tectonics and continental drift”, Endeavour, 29: 39-44, (1970).