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'''William Maurice Ewing'''(May 12, 1906 – May 4, 1974) was an American geophysicist and
+
{{Infobox biography
oceanographer.
+
| surname = Ewing
 +
| image = [[File:Maurice_Ewing_headshot.png|180px]]
 +
| BSc = Mathematics and Physics
 +
| MSc = Physics
 +
| PhD = Physics
 +
| BSc university = Rice University
 +
| MSc university = Rice University
 +
| PhD university = Rice University
 +
| Company = Columbia University
 +
| President year =
 +
| Membership =
 +
}}
 +
'''William Maurice Ewing''' (May 12, 1906 – May 4, 1974) was an American geophysicist and pioneering oceanographer.
  
 +
== Biography ==
 +
Source: ''Maurice Ewing'' by Dolores Proubasta, ''The Leading Edge Mar 1991, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 15-20'' much of this page is quoted verbatim from this article.
 +
=== Early years and Education ===
 +
William Maurice Ewing was born on May 12, 1906, to Floyd and Hope Hamilton Ewing. Maurice (Pronounced Morris), like his six younger siblings, was heir to the self-discipline and hard work of a farming family that coaxed a livelihood from the harsh flats of the Texas Panhandle. Recreation and relaxation would remain foreign concepts throughout his life; Ewing worked twice as long and hard as anybody. There were no days off.
 +
 +
Ewing received a bachelor’s in 1926 with honors in math and physics, a master’s in 1927 in physics, and a doctorate in 1931 from Rice where he was Hohenthal Scholar (1923-26) and a Fellow in Physics (1926-29). To support himself, Ewing worked on seismic crews during the summers, and this was the extent of his formal training in geophysics.
 +
 +
=== Professional Career ===
 +
==== 1930 Mapping the Continental Shelf ====
 +
After a year at the University of Pittsburgh as a physics instructor, in 1930 Ewing joined the Lehigh University faculty. Four years later, an unexpected visit by Professor Richard Field, of Princeton, and William Bowie, of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, altered the course of his career completely.
 +
 +
The geologic problem they hoped Ewing could unravel was whether the deep place where the continental shelf ends was a geologic fault or the result of outbuilding of sediment from the land. Field and Bowie, who knew about Ewing through papers he presented at the American Geophysical Union, thought that perhaps seismic measurements, with which Ewing had become familiar while working on crews, could be used in the investigation. The answer was affirmative, provided one had adequate equipment and a ship. As for Ewing’s willingness, he would sum it up years later in his biography, ''The Floor of the Sea: Maurice Ewing and the Search to Understand the Earth''.
 +
 +
: “If they had asked me to put seismic equipment on the moon instead of the bottom of the ocean I’d have agreed, I was so desperate for a chance to do research.” But then, according to his biographer, William Wertenbaker, “Ewing was desperate to learn something most of the time.”
 +
 +
==== 1935 Explosion Seismology at Sea ====
 +
With a $2000 grant from the Geological Society of America, Ewing set out in 1935 to do what had never been tried before explosion seismology at sea. On board the Coast Survey’s ''Oceanographer'' and later that year on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s ''Atlantis'', Ewing, with Albert Crary and H.M. Rutherford, began tests to trace the basement rock off the coast of Virginia in an outcrop almost to the edge of the continental shelf. Their outdated equipment was borrowed from an oil company that Ewing had worked for.
 +
 +
Using the seismic refraction method, Ewing determined that the continental shelf was a thick wedge of sediment (the tidelands where oil forms) underlain by the continental basement. The answer to Field and Bowie’s academic query didn’t, however, shake any foundations other than those of Ewing’s own career.
 +
 +
After his experience at sea, all he wanted to do thereon was solve the geophysical enigmas of the earth, and Ewing firmly believed that all the clues lay beneath the ocean basins. His attempts to obtain an annual grant from several major oil companies in return for the data he could gather regarding the offshore’s hydrocarbon potential were unsuccessful. His venture, he was told, wasn’t worth a cent of the shareholder’s money.
 +
 +
A grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation enabled Ewing to take an indefinite leave of absence from Lehigh which had just promoted him from assistant professor of physics to associate professor of geology. (He always felt that this grant was the turning point in his career.)
 +
 +
Ewing began conducting experiments in the North Atlantic basin assisted first by Crary and Rutherford and then by Allyn Vine (later of ''Alvin'' research sub fame), Norman Webster, George Woollard, and [[Joe Worzel]]. The challenges of moving their old-fashioned gear from 100 fathoms to the then-formidable depth of 1000 fathoms were compounded by limited access (two weeks a year) to the Atlantis. And considering that the ship’s main scientific objectives were other than Ewing’s, the most they managed to obtain during those two weeks was three to four good records.
 +
 +
Always pressed for time Ewing rigged ingenious data-gathering devices to work alongside the seismic equipment. One of those instruments was a deep-sea camera (the first ever) he and Vine had built on a shoestring grant from the National Geographic Society. No one else was interested in backing underwater photography because expert oceanographers maintained that water in depths greater than a few tens of fathoms was too murky to get any images of the bottom.
 +
 +
==== 1940  Undersea Photography ====
 +
The scientific community was indeed astounded when, in 1940, Ewing, his younger brother Robert, Vine, and Worzel obtained clear shots of ripples and bare cobbles (proving that currents existed at the bottom, something denied until then) and an abundance of animal life and tracks (contrary to biologists’ predictions). Just before the outbreak of World War II, Ewing accepted the offer of Columbus Iselin to work at Woods Hole on contracts from the newly created National Defense Research Committee. Iselin liked to say that he was just as impressed by Ewing’s acumen in math and physics as by the fact that he didn’t get seasick.
 +
 +
==== 1941-1945 World War II Ocean acoustics and the SoFAR channel ====
 +
As a research associate at Woods Hole, Ewing with Vine, Worzel, and Crary engaged in the application of underwater sound and photography to the problems of submarine warfare. Among Ewing’s contributions during the war years was
 +
''Sound Transmission in Sea Water'', the definitive manual on the physical and oceanographic factors that regulate underwater sound. One of its tenets was that the various temperature layers in seawater can refract sound (not unlike earth strata) and thus shield submarines from sonar detection. To solve this problem, Ewing and Vine resorted to the bathythermograph (which they promptly renamed BT). Developed by meteorologist Athelstan Spilhaus at Woods
 +
Hole, the BT, as it was lowered, made a continuous record of water temperature. However, since it took up to a minute for each reading, it was obviously too slow for defense purposes. Ewing and Vine soon had it converted to be used without having to stop the ship, making it a more effective instrument for naval operations.
 +
 +
Toward the end of the war, Ewing and Worzel developed a long-range system of underwater signaling. They detected, from 10 000 km away, a small TNT charge detonated in the deep-sound channel, a feature present in much of the ocean depths. The Sound Fixing And Ranging system--[[SOFAR]] was the Navy’s acronym-had possibilities in air-sea rescue, relief of submarines under attack, location of unknown sea mounts on an ocean-wide basis, explanation of the T-phase in earthquake seismology, and other naval and oceanographic operations. To Ewing, however, it was far more important that wartime research was developing techniques they could later use in peacetime science.
  
== Biography ==
+
==== 1946-1947 Exploration of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge ====
''Source: Maurice Ewing by Dolores Proubasta, The Leading Edge Mar 1991, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 15-20''
+
In June 1946 Ewing assumed a chair at Columbia University (though he remained a research associate at Woods Hole) to lecture and do research in geophysics. Worzel, [[Nelson Steenland]], and David Ericson went with him to Columbia. And, as expected, many of the remarkable discoveries of the ensuing period were made possible by instruments they had developed during the war.  
  
 +
For the first large Ewing-led expedition in the summer of ‘47 to explore the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, he had Atlantis outfitted with an echo sounder he and Worzel had modified to record soundings from depths up to 4000 fathoms-a capability never before realized. More (and, for the first time realistic) information was gathered about the Ridge during this voyage than had been since it was first discovered, or rather “suspected,” during the 1872-
 +
76 Challenger Expedition. It turned out to be the planet’s single largest geologic feature, equal in area to all the dry land. Ewing described it as “millions of square miles of a tangled jumble of massive peaks, saw-toothed ridges, earthquake-shattered cliffs, valleys, lava formations of every conceivable shape.” And with Tolstoy and Heezen, Ewing concluded in a paper that “the Ridge is not at all like mountains on the continents.”
  
 +
No less startling was the discovery of the great abyssal plains which proved, once again, that the topography of the ocean bottom was unlike anything terrestrial or imagined before. It appeared, in fact, that any notion previously entertained about the seafloor was suspect.
  
 +
Improved instruments and Ewing’s drive to try anything presumably more efficient made his cruises far superior technically and scientifically to any previous attempts at marine exploration. For example, Ewing perfected underway seismic shooting without having to stop and start the ship. Instead, just before each TNT charge exploded, the line towing the hydrophones was released, allowing it to float inertly while the signals were recorded. The line was then hauled back. Ewing was very proud of this development.
  
=== Early years and Education ===
+
Continued efforts to measure the thickness of sediments in the ocean basin at various locations culminated in the finding, by 1949, that it was, more or less uniformly, only 2000 ft thick. This made it possible to probe deeper.
  
William Maurice Ewing was born on May 12, 1906, to Floyd
+
“Unexpectedly,” Ewing wrote in 1955 in an unpublished report on the history of Lamont, “we were able to measure the thickness of the basaltic layer beneath the sediment and show that it was only about two miles in thickness. This constitutes the entire crust of the earth under the ocean basin, and the contrast between this thin crust and the crust twenty miles thick or so which underlies the continents, amounts to proof of the permanence of the ocean basins.” (Permanence was counter to the looming theory of seafloor spreading. More about this later.)
and Hope Hamilton Ewing. Maurice (Pronounced Morris), like
+
his six younger siblings, was heir to the self-discipline and hard
+
For every question answered, a thousand new ones arose. There were no bounds to the avenues of scientific query-if only, that is, they had full-time access to a ship and better facilities than three small rooms in a basement. At least one problem resolved itself just in time to prevent Ewing from leaving for MIT where he was offered everything he lacked at Columbia.
work of a farming family that coaxed a livelihood from the harsh
 
flats of the Texas Panhandle. Recreation and relaxation would
 
remain foreign concepts throughout his life; Ewing worked twice
 
as long and hard as anybody. There were no days off.  
 
  
Ewing received a bachelor’s in 1926 with honors in math and
+
==== 1949 Lamont Geological Observatory ====
physics, a master’s in 1927 in physics, and a doctorate in 1931
+
In 1949, through a gift of the estate of the late Thomas W. Lamont to Columbia University, the Lamont Geological Observatory came into being with Ewing as its founding director. Liberated from their dungeon, his team moved about 24 km north of the university to the Lamont mansion, high above the Hudson River and, for their research purposes, conveniently away from the noise pollution of New York.  
from Rice where he was Hohenthal Scholar (1923-26) and a
 
Fellow in Physics (1926-29). To support himself, Ewing worked on
 
seismic crews during the summers, and this was the extent of his
 
formal training in geophysics.  
 
  
=== Professional Career ===
+
While Ewing considered the creation of Lamont the second milestone in his career, still nothing ranked higher in his wish list than gaining unlimited access to a ship. His association of nearly two decades with Atlantis had proven fruitful but often frustrating . And then Worzel found Vema, a 202 ft, three-masted schooner that, he felt, was everything they wanted. The only problem was its $100 000 price tag, an amount that Ewing couldn’t raise on short notice. Worzel pressed Ewing into borrowing the money from Columbia University lest they miss the chance to ever own a ship, especially one so fine.  
After a year at the University of Pittsburgh as a physics
 
instructor, in 1930 Ewing joined the Lehigh University faculty. Four
 
years later, an unexpected visit by Professor Richard Field, of
 
Princeton, and William Bowie, of the US Coast and Geodetic
 
Survey, altered the course of his career completely.  
 
  
The geologic problem they hoped Ewing could unravel was
+
Predictably, the RV Vema-the largest research ship in the world at the time-became Ewing’s most prized possession: a real laboratory. (Buildings, he used to say, were just places to store data.) Its first scientific voyage was in the spring of 1953, and from that moment on, the net effect the vessel had on Ewing’s research associates-already getting overcrowded and always overworked at the Lamont mansion---was that everyone’s workload quadrupled. Some of them were also required to risk life and limb at sea for months at a time
whether the deep place where the continental shelf ends was a geologic fault or the result of outbuilding of sediment from the land.  
 
Field and Bowie, who knew about Ewing through papers he  
 
presented at the American Geophysical Union, thought that per-
 
haps seismic measurements, with which Ewing had become
 
familiar while working on crews, could be used in the  
 
investigation. The answer was affirmative, provided one had adequate
 
equipment and a ship. As for Ewing’s willingness, he would sum
 
it up years later in his biography, Z’Jre Floor of the Sea: Maurice
 
Ewing and the Search to Understand the Earth. “If they had asked
 
me to put seismic equipment on the moon instead of the bottom
 
of the ocean I’d have agreed, I was so desperate for a chance to
 
do research.” But then, according to his biographer, William
 
Wertenbaker, “Ewing was desperate to learn something most of the
 
time.”
 
  
With a $2000 grant from the Geological Society of America,
+
==== 1954 Man overboard ====
Ewing set out in 1935 to do what had never been tried before-
+
Ewing himself had a close call in January 1954, while trying to secure some oil drums that had broken loose during a heavy sea between Cape Hatteras and Bermuda; he, along with his brother John and the ship’s first and second mates, Charles Wilkie and Mike Brown, were swept overboard. The superb seamanship of Captain MacMurry brought the ship full about time and again to rescue Brown, John Ewing, and finally after 45 minutes, Maurice. But Wilkie was never found.  
explosion seismology at sea. Onboard the Coast Survey’s
 
Oceunogrupher and later that year on the Woods Hole Oceanographic
 
Institution’s Atluntis, Ewing, with Albert Crary and H.M. Ruther-
 
ford, began tests to trace the basement rock off the coast of Vir-
 
ginia in an outcrop almost to the edge of the continental shelf.  
 
Their outdated equipment was borrowed from an oil company that
 
Ewing had worked for.  
 
  
Using the seismic refraction method, Ewing determined that
+
Not even tragedy could slow the Roman-galley-like tempo of Vemu. Ewing’s insistence on exacting top efficiency out of the ship and her crew produced far more information than could be analyzed on board or back at Lamont. Most cumbersome were the numerous cores obtained on each voyage-even though working up the data of a single one could easily take a year. To his critics Ewing would simply say, ‘When you can show me two alike, I’ll stop and study them in detail.
the continental shelf was a thick wedge of sediment (the tidelands
 
where oil forms) underlain by the continental basement. The
 
answer to Field and Bowie’s academic query didn’t, however,
 
shake any foundations other than those of Ewing’s own career.
 
After his experience at sea, all he wanted to do thereon was solve
 
the geophysical enigmas of the earth, and Ewing firmly believed
 
that all the clues lay beneath the ocean basins. His attempts to
 
obtain an annual grant from several major oil companies in return
 
for the data he could gather regarding the offshore’s hydrocarbon
 
potential were unsuccessful. His venture, he was told, wasn’t
 
worth a cent of the shareholder’s money.  
 
  
A grant from the John Simmon Guggenheim Foundation enabled
+
(In the hands of Jim Hays, Lloyd Burckle, and other paleontologists and sedimentologists, the large collection of Lamont cores became the cornerstone of modem paleoceanography, which is now being furthered by deep-sea scientific drilling.) A code was devised so Ewing could keep tabs of the daily booty of data. Worzel explains, “Each type of measurement could be reported by simply stating its assigned number. But Ewing wasn’t satisfied just knowing, for example, how many cores were taken; he wanted much more detail. Our codes ended up having 30 or 40 number groups detailing the work in progress, and these messages arrived in the lab every other day while the ship was at sea.
Ewing to take an indefinite leave of absence from Lehigh which
 
had just promoted him from assistant professor of physics to as-
 
sociate professor of geology. (He always felt that this grant was
 
the turning point in his career.)
 
  
Ewing began conducting experiments in the North Atlantic
+
''Vema'', which cris-crossed every ocean, was the first American research vessel in 1961 to sail around the world. The following year the Robert D. Conrad became Lamont’s second ship. In the ’50s and ‘60s, Ewing and the Lamont staff under his direction conceived most of the observation techniques for the study of the ocean floor. Marine seismologist George Shor of Scripps called Lamont-Doherty “the world’s greatest widget factory.” Those “absolutely magnificent widgets,as Shor called them, made it possible for Lamont to produce more research per dollar than anyone else. They ushered in modem deep-sea technology with continuous soundings, precision depth recording, seismic
basin assisted first by Crary and Rutherford and then by Allyn
+
refraction and reflection measurements and profiling, long-piston coring and simultaneous thermal gradient measurements, gravity measurements from surface ships, flux-gate and nuclear resonance magnetometer measurements, underwater
Vine (later of Alvin research sub fame), Norman Webster, George
+
photography, air-gun sound sources, deepwater sampling for radioactive measurements, nephelometry measurements, 3.5 kHz sonoprobe measurements, seismic buoys in conjunction with continuous profiling, oriented cores from the ocean floor, integrated measurements of phenomena from a single wire, and much more.  
Woollard, and Wonel. The challenges of moving their old-  
 
fashioned gear from 100 fathoms to the then-formidable depth of
 
1000 fathoms were compounded by limited access (two weeks a
 
year) to the Atlantis. And considering that the ship’s main scien-
 
tific objectives were other than Ewing’s, the most they managed
 
to obtain during those two weeks was three to four good records.
 
Always pressed for time Ewing rigged ingenious data-gather-
 
ing devices to work alongside the seismic equipment. One of those
 
instruments was a deep-sea camera (the first ever) he and Vine
 
had built on a shoestring grant from the National Geographic
 
Society. No one else was interested in backing underwater photog-
 
raphy because expert oceanographers maintained that water in  
 
depths greater than a few tens of fathoms was too murky to get
 
any images of the bottom.
 
The scientific community was indeed astounded when, in 1940,
 
Ewing, his younger brother Robert, Vine, and Worxel obtained
 
clear shots of ripples and bare cobbles (proving that currents ex-
 
isted at the bottom, something denied until then) and an abundance
 
of animal life and tracks (contrary to biologists’ predictions).  
 
Just before the outbreak of World War II, Ewing accepted the  
 
offer of Columbus Iselin to work at Woods Hole on contracts from
 
the newly created National Defense Research Committee. Iselin
 
liked to say that he was just as impressed by Ewing’s acumen in
 
math and physics as by the fact that he didn’t get seasick.
 
As a research associate at Woods Hole, Ewing with Vine, Wor-
 
xel, and Crary engaged in the application of underwater sound and
 
photography to the problems of submarine warfare. Among
 
Ewing’s contributions during the war years was Sound Trunsmis-
 
sion in Sea Water, the definitive manual on the physical and
 
oceanographic factors that regulate underwater sound. One of its
 
tenets was that the various temperature layers in seawater can
 
refract sound (not unlike earth strata) and thus shield submarines
 
from sonar detection. To solve this problem, Ewing and Vine
 
resorted to the bathythermograph (which they promptly renamed
 
BT). Developed by meteorologist Athelstan Spilhaus at Woods
 
Hole, the BT, as it was lowered, made a continuous record of
 
water temperature. However, since it took up to a minute for each
 
reading, it was obviously too slow for defense purposes. Ewing
 
and Vine soon had it converted to be used without having to stop
 
the ship, making it a more effective instrument for naval opera-  
 
tions.
 
Toward the end of the war, Ewing and Worzel developed a
 
long-range system of underwater signaling. They detected, from  
 
10 000 km away, a small TNT charge detonated in the deep-sound  
 
channel, a feature present in much of the ocean depths. The sound
 
fixing and ranging system--SoFAn was the Navy’s acronym-had
 
possibilities in air-sea rescue, relief of submarines under attack,
 
location of unknown sea mounts on an ocean-wide basis, explan-
 
a tion of the T-phase in earthquake seismology, and other naval and
 
oceanographic operations. To Ewing, however, it was far more
 
important that wartime research was developing techniques they
 
could later use in peacetime science
 
  
In June 1946 Ewing assumed a chair at Columbia University
+
==== Long PhD's and a Large Number of Publications ====
(though he remained a research associate at Woods Hole) to lec-
+
Equally prolific was their literary output. Ewing was a great believer in the power of publication; he thought it a waste of time to write master’s or doctoral theses that weren’t acceptable in the scientific press. Which brings up another unique facet of Doc, the professor: the exceedingly long time his graduate students lingered at Columbia in the pursuit of a degree; 5-10 years wasn’t unusual.
ture and do research in geophysics. Worzel, Nelson Steenland,
 
and David Ericson went with him to Columbia. And, as expected,
 
many of the remarkable discoveries of the ensuing period were
 
made possible by instruments they had developed during the war.  
 
For the first large Ewing-led expedition in the summer of ‘47
 
to explore the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, he had Atlantis outfitted with
 
an echo sounder he and Worzel had modified to record soundings
 
from depths up to 4000 fathoms-a capability never before real-
 
ized. More (and, for the first time realistic) information was
 
gathered about the Ridge during this voyage than had been since
 
it was first discovered, or rather “suspected,” during the 1872-
 
76 Challenger Expedition. It turned out to be the planet’s single
 
largest geologic feature, equal in area to all the dry land. Ewing
 
described it as “millions of square miles of a tangled jumble of
 
massive peaks, saw-toothed ridges, earthquake-shattered cliffs,
 
valleys, lava formations of every conceivable shape.” And with
 
Tolstoy and Heezen, Ewing concluded in a paper that “the Ridge
 
is not at all like mountains on the continents.”
 
No less startling was the discovery of the great abyssal plains
 
which proved, once again, that the topography of the ocean bot-
 
tom was unlike anything terrestrial or imagined before. It ap-
 
peared, in fact, that any notion previously entertained about the
 
seafloor was suspect.
 
Improved instruments and Ewing’s drive to try anything
 
presumably more efficient made his cruises far superior technical-
 
ly and scientifically to any previous attempts at marine explora-  
 
tion. For example, Ewing perfected underway seismic shooting
 
without having to stop and start the ship. Instead, just before each
 
TNT charge exploded, the line towing the hydrophones was
 
released, allowing it to float inertly while the signals were
 
  
recorded. The line was then hauled back. Ewing was very proud
+
This regime produced at least 367 bibliographical items attributable to Ewing, yet he was the sole author of only a few; the rest were joint efforts born of a curious sort of scientific bartering. As the late William Donn remembered, “He was great at starting research studies that were completed only because one of the faithful would be following behind. Many of us traded on his scientific appetite. Often, when I had an interesting and somewhat sticky wave-related problem, I would show him the observations and ask if he wanted to buy a piece of it. His eyes would light up, and he always bought in, leading to a successful conclusion of the study.” Back when Lamont was instituted in ‘49, a fund of about $50 000 was raised by the department chairman, John Kerr, from various oil and mining companies. The parsimonious use of these funds stretched them for four years. Afterwards, the brunt of money-raising for most of their needs fell on Ewing---something that would bear heavily on him for the following 22 years at the observatory.
of this development.
 
Continued efforts to measure the thickness of sediments in the  
 
ocean basin at various locations culminated in the finding, by 1949,
 
that it was, more or less uniformly, only 2000 ft thick. This made
 
it possible to probe deeper.  
 
“Unexpectedly,” Ewing wrote in 1955 in an unpublished
 
report on the history of Lamont, “we were able to measure the
 
thickness of the basaltic layer beneath the sediment and show that
 
it was only about two miles in thickness. This constitutes the en-
 
tire crust of the earth under the ocean basin, and the contrast be-
 
tween this thin crust and the crust twenty miles thick or so which
 
underlies the continents, amounts to proof of the permanence of
 
the ocean basins.” (Permanence was counter to the looming theory
 
of seafloor spreading. More about this later.)
 
F or every question answered, a thousand new ones arose. There
 
were no bounds to the avenues of scientific query-if only, that
 
is, they had full-time access to a ship and better facilities than three
 
small rooms in a basement. At least one problem resolved itself
 
just in timeto prevent Ewing from leaving for MIT where he was
 
offered everything he lacked at Columbia.  
 
In 1949, through a gift of the estate of the late Thomas W.
 
Lamont to Columbia University, the Lamont Geological Obser-  
 
vatory came into being with Ewing as its founding director.
 
Liberated from their dungeon, his team moved about 24 km north
 
of the university to the Lamont mansion, high above the Hudson
 
River and, for their research purposes, conveniently away from
 
the noise pollution of New York.
 
While Ewing considered the creation of Lamont the second
 
milestone in his career, still nothing ranked higher in his wish list
 
  
than gaining unlimited access to a ship. His association of nearly
+
Alas, “policy ,” as he used to say, “is sabotage originating in higher echelons.” Neither policy nor fiscal considerations however, tempered his hunger for science. Shortly after the move to the Lamont estate, Ewing started to expand on the earthquake seismology research that he had initiated at the Columbia campus where traffic noise had severely hampered their measurements. At first, this branch of investigation was pursued mainly by Ewing  
two decades with Atlantis had proven fruitful but often frustrat-
+
and graduate student Frank Press (now president of the National Academy of Sciences). Eventually they designed a seismograph far superior to any that existed and used it in a network of stations which later served as a model for the Worldwide Standardized Seismograph Network.  
ing . And then Worzel found Vema, a 202 ft, three-masted schooner
 
that, he felt, was everything they wanted. The only problem was
 
its $100 000 price tag, an amount that Ewing couldn’t raise on
 
short notice. Worzel pressed Ewing into borrowing the money
 
from Columbia University lest they miss the chance to ever own
 
a ship, especially one so fine.
 
P redictably, the RV Vema-the largest research ship in the world
 
at the time-became Ewing’s most prized possession: a real
 
laboratory. (Buildings, he used to say, were just places to store
 
data.) Its first scientific voyage was in the spring of 1953, and
 
from that moment on, the net effect the vessel had on Ewing’s re-
 
search associates-already getting overcrowded and always over-
 
worked at the Lamont mansion-was that everyone’s workload
 
quadrupled. Some of them were also required to risk life and limb
 
at sea for months at a time
 
Ewing himself had a close call in January 1954, while trying
 
to secure some oil drums that had broken loose during a heavy
 
sea between Cape Hatteras and Bermuda; he, along with his
 
brother John and the ship’s first and second mates, Charles Wilkie
 
and Mike Brown, were swept overboard. The superb seamanship
 
of Captain MacMurry brought the ship full about time and again
 
to rescue Brown, John Ewing, and finally after 45 minutes,
 
Maurice. But Wilkie was never found.
 
Not even tragedy could slow the Roman-galley-like tempo of
 
Vemu. Ewing’s insistence on exacting top efficiency out of the
 
ship and her crew produced far more information than could be
 
analyzed on board or back at Lamont. Most cumbersome were the
 
numerous cores obtained on each voyage-even though working
 
up the data of a single one could easily take a year. To his critics
 
Ewing would simply say, ‘When you can show me two alike, I’ll
 
stop and study them in detail.”
 
(In the hands of Jim Hays, Lloyd Burckle, and other paleon-
 
tologists and sedimentologists, the large collection of Lamont cores
 
became the cornerstone of modem paleoceanography, which is
 
now being furthered by deep-sea scientific drilling.)  
 
A code was devised so Ewing could keep tabs of the daily booty
 
of data. Worzel explains, “Each type of measurement could be
 
reported by simply stating its assigned number. But Ewing wasn’t
 
satisfied just knowing, for example, how many cores were taken;
 
he wanted much more detail. Our codes ended up having 30 or
 
40 number groups detailing the work in progress, and these mes-
 
sages arrived in the lab every other day while the ship was at sea.
 
  
Vema, which &s-crossed every ocean, was the first American
+
==== Late 1950s  Maurice Ewing collaboration with Frank Press ====
research vessel in 1961 to sail around the world. The following
+
A major development of the Ewing-Press partnership was the interpretation of the mysterious “coda” which appeared in seismograms only when an ocean lay between the source and the recording station. The phenomenon consists of great big swooping waves---surface waves----and seismologists considered it meaningless. Not so Ewing, who had noticed the coda’s recurrence in the records of the Coast and Geodetic Survey office during the war and was determined to understand its significance. Press and Ewing eventually identified most of the components of the coda as dispersive wave trains of Love and Raleigh waves, a knowledge that has greatly contributed to the study of the deep earth.  
year the Robert D. Conrad became Lamont’s second ship.
+
This work culminated in 1957 in the classic book, ''Elastic Waves in Layered Media'', by Ewing, Jardetzky, and Press. Other students worked on each of the various branches of geophysics of particular interest to Ewing.  
In the ’50s and ‘609, Ewing and the Lamont staff under his
 
direction conceived most of the observation techniques for the  
 
study of the ocean floor. Marine seismologist George Shor of  
 
Scripps called Lamont-Doherty “the world’s greatest widget fac-  
 
tory.” Those “absolutely magnificent widgets,” as Shor called
 
them, made it possible for Lamont to produce more research per
 
dollar than anyone else. They ushered in modem deep-sea tech-  
 
nology with continuous soundings, precision depth recording, seis-  
 
mic refraction and reflection measurements and profiling,
 
long-piston coring and simultaneous thermal gradient measure-  
 
ments, gravity measurements from surface ships, flux-gate and  
 
nuclear resonance magnetometer measurements, underwater
 
photography, air-gun sound sources, deepwater sampling for
 
radioactive measurements, nephelometry measurements, 3.5 kHz
 
sonoprobe measurements, seismic buoys in conjunction with con-
 
tinuous profiling, oriented cores from the ocean floor, integrated
 
measurements of phenomena from a single wire, and much more.
 
Equally prolific was their literary output. Ewing was a great
 
believer in the power of publication; he thought it a waste of time
 
to write master’s or doctoral theses that weren’t acceptable in the  
 
scientific press. Which brings up another unique facet of Dot, the  
 
professor: the exceedingly long timehis graduate students lingered
 
at Columbia in the pursuit of a degree; 5-10 years wasn’t unusual.
 
This regime produced at least 367 bibliographical items attribu-
 
table to Ewing, yet he was the sole author of only a few; the rest
 
were joint efforts born of a curious sort of scientific bartering.
 
As the late William Donn remembered, “He was great at start-
 
ing research studies that were completed only because one of the  
 
faithfnl would be following behind. Many of us traded on his scien-
 
tific appetite. Often, when I had an interesting and somewhat sticky
 
wave-related problem, I would show him the observations and ask
 
if he wanted to buy a piece of it. His eyes would light up, and he
 
always bought in, leading to a successfnl conclusion of the study.”
 
B ack when Lamont was instituted in ‘49, a fund of about $50 000
 
was raised by the department chairman, John Kerr, from various
 
oil and mining companies. The parsimonious use of these funds
 
stretched them for four years. Afterwards, the brunt of money-
 
raising for most of their needs fell on Ewing-something that
 
would bear heavily on him for the following 22 years at the ob-
 
servatory. Alas, “policy ,” as he used to say, “is sabotage originat-
 
ing in higher echelons.” Neither policy nor fiscal considerations
 
  
however, tempered his hunger for science. Shortly after the move
+
==== 1959 Ewing-Press Collaboration and Turbidity Currents ====
to the Lamont estate, Ewing started to expand on the earthquake
+
Turbidity currents, one of the chief forces that shape the ocean floor, were first proposed by Ewing and Bruce Heezen as they investigated the possible causes for the destruction of transatlantic telegraph cables 400 miles away
seismology research that he had initiated at the Columbia campus
+
from the epicenter of the 1929 Grand Banks earthquake. In 1952, Heezen was put in charge of drafting a map of the North Atlantic seafloor based on echo soundings obtained with the precision depth recorder developed at Lament. The result was a faithful and never-before imagined picture of the geologic and geographic features of the ocean floor. In 1959 the Geological Society of America published ''The Floors of the Oceans'': ''The North Atlantic'', by Ewing,
where traffic noise had severely hampered their measurements. At
+
Heezen, and Marie Tharp, a small book depicting-for the first time-the submerged landscape.  
first, this branch of investigation was pursued mainly by Ewing  
 
and graduate student Frank Press (now president of the National
 
Academy of Sciences). Eventually they designed a seismograph
 
far superior to any that existed and used it in a network of stations
 
which later served as a model for the Worldwide Standardized
 
Seismograph Network.
 
A major development of the Ewing-Press partnership was the  
 
interpretation of the mysterious “coda” which appeared in seis-
 
mograms only when an ocean lay between the source and the
 
recording station. The phenomenon consists of great big swoop-
 
ing waves-surface waves-and seismologists considered it mean-  
 
ingless. Not so Ewing, who had noticed the coda’s recurrence in
 
the records of the Coast and Geodetic Survey office during the  
 
war and was determined to understand its significance. Press and
 
Ewing eventually identified most of the components of the coda
 
as dispersive wave trains of Love and Raleigh waves, a knowledge
 
that has greatly contributed to the study of the deep earth. This
 
  
work culminated in 1957 in the classic book, Elastic Waves in
+
The Ewing-Heezen collaboration also identified the vast extent of the Mid-Ocean Ridge through the correlation of sounding and earthquake data. Joe Worzel, Ewing’s indefatigable lieutenant, was in charge of gravity measurements at sea. The goal was to collect enough of them to produce conclusive information on the crustal transition from ocean to continent, volcanic island arcs, mid-ocean ridges, oceanic islands and sea mounts, and the shape of the earth in  
Layered Media, by Ewing, Jardetzky, and Press.
 
Other students worked on each of the various branches of geo-
 
physics of particular interesto Ewing. Turbidity currents, one of
 
the chief forces that shape the ocean floor, were first proposed by
 
Ewing and Bruce Heezen as they investigated the possible causes
 
for the destruction of transatlantic telegraph cables 400 miles away
 
from the epicenter of the 1929 Grand Banks earthquake. In 1952,
 
Heezen was put in charge of drafting a map of the North Atlan-
 
tic seafloor based on echo soundings obtained with the precision
 
depth recorder developed at Lament. The result was a faithful and
 
never-before imagined picture of the geologic and geographic fea-
 
tures of the ocean floor. In 1959 the Geological Society of America
 
published ZIae Floors of the Oceans: 7he North Atlantic, by Ewing,
 
Heezen, and Marie Tharp, a small book depicting-for the first
 
time-the submerged landscape.
 
The Ewing-Heezen collaboration also identified the vast extent  
 
of the Mid-Ocean Ridge through the correlation of sounding and  
 
earthquake data.  
 
Joe Worzel, Ewing’s indefatigable lieutenant, was in charge of  
 
gravity measurements at sea. The goal was to collect enough of  
 
them to produce conclusive information on the crustal transition  
 
from ocean to continent, volcanic island arcs, mid-ocean ridges,  
 
oceanic islands and sea mounts, and the shape of the earth in  
 
 
general.  
 
general.  
Brother John Ewing, who is now senior scientist emeritus at
 
Woods Hole, worked on ocean bottom reflection seismic. In 1960,
 
he developed the seismic reflection profiler, which automatically
 
converts echoes into a continuous tracing of strata beneath the
 
seafloor. With this instrument, Lamont was fust able to visualize
 
ancient layers of sediments and the shape of the crust underneath.
 
A hundred thousand miles of records later, when Maurice Ewing
 
saw the flatness of the old layers across the Atlantic and Pacific,
 
he was reassured of the permanence of the ocean basins. HOW
 
c&d buried sediments remain undisturbed if spreading and/or
 
drifting were going on?
 
With William Dorm he worked on ice origins. Confronted with
 
the puzzle of Paleozoic glaciations in the southern hemisphere,
 
DOM dared utter “continental drift” to his mentor as the only
 
.plausible answer to the phenomenon. Ewing examined the infor-
 
mation and curtly replied, “You are probably right,” then changed
 
the subject, but not his mind.
 
  
Y et another field of enquiry was marine magnetics, of which  
+
==== 1960s Ocean Bottom Reflection Seismic and Drift Denial====
Ewing was an ardent proponent; he had been towing mag-
+
Brother John Ewing, who is now senior scientist emeritus at Woods Hole, worked on ocean bottom reflection seismic. In 1960, he developed the seismic reflection profiler, which automatically converts echoes into a continuous tracing of strata beneath the seafloor. With this instrument, Lamont was fust able to visualize ancient layers of sediments and the shape of the crust underneath. A hundred thousand miles of records later, when Maurice Ewing saw the flatness of the old layers across the Atlantic and Pacific, he was reassured of the permanence of the ocean basins. HOW could buried sediments remain undisturbed if spreading and/or drifting were going on?
netometers behind his ships--which some considered a senseless  
+
 
effort-since 1948. It was with Ewing’s marine magnetometer,  
+
With William van Dorn he worked on ice origins. Confronted with the puzzle of Paleozoic glaciations in the southern hemisphere, van Dorn dared utter “continental drift” to his mentor as the only plausible answer to the phenomenon. Ewing examined the information and curtly replied, “You are probably right,” then changed the subject, but not his mind.
one he converted from a WWII airborne model, that a pattern of  
+
 
marine magnetic reversals was first discovered by Raff and Mason  
+
==== 1947-1960s Marine Magnetics and Drift Denial ====
of Scripps. However, as high as Ewing’s expectations were regard-
+
Yet another field of inquiry was marine magnetics, of which Ewing was an ardent proponent; he had been towing magnetometers behind his ships--which some considered a senseless effort since 1948. It was with Ewing’s marine magnetometer, one he converted from a WWII airborne model, that a pattern of marine magnetic reversals was first discovered by Raff and Mason of Scripps. However, as high as Ewing’s expectations were regarding the study of changes in the earth’s magnetic field, he didn't envision that it would rewrite the history of the earth’s surface the way it happened. It was up to his disciples and colleagues-Allen Cox, Dennis Hayes, Jim Heirtzler, Mark Langseth, Xavier Le-Pichon, Drummond Matthews, Jack Oliver, Nell Opdyke, Walter Pitman, Lynn Sykes, Manik Talwani, and Fred Vine, among others-to realize that the data accumulated strongly supported some mind-blowing concepts, i.e., seafloor spreading and continental drift. Withal, Lament remained a bastion of the anti-spread-and-drift mindset until 1965-66 when Pitman’s startling Elronin-19 magnetic profile made believers out of almost everyone (Ewing was reticent).  
ing the study of changes ln the earth’s magnetic field, he didnt ’
 
envision that it would rewrite the history of the earth’s surface the  
 
way it happened. It was up to his disciples and colleagues-Allen  
 
Cox, Dennis Hayes, Jim Heirtzler, Mark Langseth, Xavier Le-  
 
Pichon, Drummond Matthews, Jack Oliver, Nell Opdyke, Walter  
 
Pitman, Lynn Sykes, Manik Talwani, and Fred Vine, among  
 
others-to realize that the data accumulated strongIy supported  
 
some mind-blowing concepts, i.e., seafloor spreading and con-
 
tinental drift. Withal, Lament remained a bastion of the anti-  
 
spread-and-drift mindset until 1965-66 when Pitman’s startling  
 
Elronin-19 magnetic profile made believers out of almost everyone  
 
(Ewing was reticent).  
 
  
Some have speculated that Ewing might have brought earlier  
+
Some have speculated that Ewing might have brought earlier refinement to the far fetched sequent early “drifters” had he looked at the data with the eyes of a geologist. “Geologists spend their time poking around trying to explain this or that little detail,” he once complained. “I keep wanting to say, ‘Why don’t you try to see what’s making it all happen?"
refinemento the farfetched sequent early “drifters” had he looked at the data with the eyes  
 
of a geologist. “Geologists spend their time poking around trying  
 
to explain this or that little detail,” he once complained. “I keep  
 
wanting to say, ‘Why don’t you try to see what’s making it all  
 
happen? ’ ’ ’
 
Ignoring his own prescription, Ewing labeled the concepts of
 
seafloor spreading and continental drift “rubbish” (a reaction,
 
perhaps, to having overlooked their evidence in the first place)
 
while countenancing their investigation and thus enabling those
 
under his aegis to bring about the new age of geology.
 
As Lamont prospered, the diversity of work also increased.
 
Ewing, who couldn’t stay away from new scientific enticements,
 
sometimes neglected those areas to which his knowledge and in-
 
tuition were best suited. His contributions to half a dozen fields
 
of science notwithstanding, the hallmarks resulted from projects
 
to which he paid sustained attention. Towering examples are his
 
elucidations of the coda, turbidity currents, the oceanic crust, and
 
the Mid-Ocean Ridge.
 
  
In 1969, through a large grant from the Hemy L. and Grace
+
Ignoring his own prescription, Ewing labeled the concepts of seafloor spreading and continental drift “rubbish” (a reaction, perhaps, to having overlooked their evidence in the first place) while countenancing their investigation and thus enabling those under his aegis to bring about the new age of geology. As Lamont prospered, the diversity of work also increased. Ewing, who couldn’t stay away from new scientific enticements, sometimes neglected those areas to which his knowledge and intuition were best suited. His contributions to half a dozen fields of science not withstanding, the hallmarks resulted from projects to which he paid sustained attention. Towering examples are his
Doherty Charitable Foundation, the Observatory was renamed
+
elucidations of the coda, turbidity currents, the oceanic crust, and the Mid-Ocean Ridge.
Lamont-Doherty, and it appeared that Ewing might be finally able
 
to raise the salaries of his staff to “half’ (as he used to lament)
 
what Woods Hole, Scripps, or other research institutions were  
 
paying their people. Eventually, the financial skirmishes that un-
 
derlie all research proved too much for the scientist. In the spring
 
of ‘72, Ewing shocked everyone with his resignation and un-
 
ceremonious departure from the Observatory that would forever
 
bear his imprint. He went to the University of Texas-Galveston to
 
head its Marine Sciences Institute.  
 
  
Ewing was addressing the applications of multichannel CDP
+
==== 1969-1972 Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory to UT Galveston ====
seismology in solving problems of the continent-ocean transition
+
In 1969, through a large grant from the Hemy L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation, the Observatory was renamed Lamont-Doherty, and it appeared that Ewing might be finally able to raise the salaries of his staff to “half’ (as he used to lament) what Woods Hole, Scripps, or other research institutions were paying their people. Eventually, the financial skirmishes that underlie all research proved too much for the scientist. In the spring of ‘72, Ewing shocked everyone with his resignation and unceremonious departure from the Observatory that would forever bear his imprint. He went to the University of Texas-Galveston to head its Marine Sciences Institute.  
zone when a stroke claimed his life on May 4,1974. In his lifetime,  
 
he had acquired over half the offshote geophysical information
 
gathered until then. He proved that the ocean basins were more
 
than mere water receptacles, turning oceanic research, as some-  
 
one observed, “from a polite academic backwater into one of the  
 
most exciting fields of enquiry beiig pursued todey.
 
Few possess the kind of scientific intuition that COnSiStdy
 
identifies lines of inquiry leading to momentous discoveries.  
 
Ewing did so not only in the field of geophysics but in merine
 
geology and seismology as well. And others have been working
 
on the details ever since.  
 
  
=== List of Honors Received by Maurice Ewing ===
+
==== Death in 1974 ====
* 1938 Guggenheim Fellow
+
Ewing was addressing the applications of multichannel CDP seismology in solving problems of the continent-ocean transition zone when a stroke claimed his life on May 4, 1974. In his lifetime, he had acquired over half the offshore geophysical information gathered until then. He proved that the ocean basins were more than mere water receptacles, turning oceanic research, as someone observed, “from a polite academic backwater into one of the most exciting fields of inquiry being pursued today.” Few possess the kind of scientific intuition that consistently identifies lines of inquiry leading to momentous discoveries. Ewing did so not only in the field of geophysics but in marine
* 1949 Member, National Academy of Sciences
+
geology and seismology as well. And others have been working on the details ever since.
* 1949 Honorary doctor of science, Washington and Lee Unlverslty
 
:: Arthur L. Day Medalist, Geological Society of America
 
* 1951 Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
 
* 1952 Honorary doctor of science, University of Denver
 
:: Member, Philosophical Society of Texas
 
:: Guggenheim Fellow
 
* 1955 Guggenheim Fellow
 
:: Agassiz Medal, National Academy of Sciences
 
:: Distinguished US Public Service Award, US Navy
 
* 1956 Foreign Member (Section for Sciences), Royal Nethedands
 
:: Academy of Sciences and Letters
 
* 1957 Honorary doctor of science, Lehigh Unlversity
 
:: Honorary doctor of science, University of Utrecht
 
:: William Bowle Medal, American Geophysical Union
 
:: Order of Naval Merit, Rank of Commander, Argentine Republic
 
:: Honorary Member, SEG
 
* 1959 Member, American Philosophical Society
 
* 1960 Vetlesen Prize, Columbia University (the Nobel-equivalent for earth scientists)
 
:: Honorary doctor of science, University of Rhode Island
 
:: Honorary doctor of laws, Dalhousie
 
:: John Fleming Medal, American lnstltute of Qeonomy and Natural Resources
 
* 1961 Cullum Geographical Medal, American Geographical Society
 
:: Joseph Prlestley Award, Dickinson College
 
* 1962 Medal of Honor, Rice University
 
* 1963 Honorary doctor of science, University of Durham
 
:: John J. Carty Medal, National Academy of Sciences
 
* 1964 Foreign Member, Geological Society of London
 
:: Gold Medal, Royal Astronomical Society (London)
 
* 1965 Vega Medal, Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography
 
* 1966 Corresponding Member (New York), Academia Nacional de
 
:: Cienclas Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales (Buenos Aires)
 
* 1967 Third David Rivett Memorial Lecturer (CSIRO, Australia)
 
:: Honorary Fellow, Indian Qeophysical Union
 
* 1968 Sidney Powers Memorial Medal, American Asscclation of  
 
:::Petroleum Geologists
 
:: Honorary Member, American Association of Petrdeum Geologisb
 
:: Honorary doctor of science, University of Delaware
 
* 1969 Honorary doctor of science, Long Island University
 
:: Sesquicentennial Medal, St. Louis University
 
:: Wollaston Medal, Geological Society of London
 
:: Honorary Member, So&dad Colombiana de Geologia
 
:: Honorary doctor of science, U National de Colombla
 
* 1970 Honorary Member, Royal Society of New Zealand
 
* 1971 Honorary doctor of science, Centre College of Kentucky
 
*1972 Foreign Member, Royal Society (London)
 
:: Alumni Gold Medal, Rice University
 
* 1973 National Medal of Science
 
:: Robert Earl McConnell Award, American Institute of Mining,
 
::: Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
 
:: Associate, Royal Astronomical Society (London)
 
:: Honorary Member, Canadian Socii of Petroleum Geologists
 
:: First Sproule Lecturer, University of Alberta
 
:: Member, Houston Philosophical Society
 
* 1974 Waiter H. Bucher Medal, American Geophysical Union
 
::Distinguished Achievement Award, Offshore Technobgy Conference
 
* 1976 Maurice Ewing Medal is created, jointly awarded by the  
 
American Geophysical Union and the US Navy
 
* 1977 Maurice Ewing Medal is created as SEGs ’ highest award
 
* 1997 Maurice Ewing Earth and Planetary Sciences Fund is
 
established by the National Academy of Sciences
 
* 1999 The Maurice Ewing a 299 ft research vessel owned by the
 
Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, is launched
 
  
 
=== Former Students ===
 
=== Former Students ===
Most if not all of his 200-plus  
+
Most if not all of his 200-plus graduate students achieved a measure of success well above the average. And what higher a professor’s glory than to count among his ahmmi the likes of [[Albert Crary]], [[Milton Dobrin]],  
graduate students achieved a measure of success well above the  
+
[[William van Dorn]], Jim Dorman, Charles Drake, Gordon Hamilton, Jim Hayes, Bruce Heezen, John Bracken Hersey, Sam Katz, Marcus Langseth, Gary Latham, Bernie Luskin, [[Maurice Major]], Edward Miller, [[Charles Officer]], [[Jack Oliver]], [[Frank Press]], [[H. M. Rutherford]], [[Nelson Steenland]], Ivan Tolstoy, Allyn Vine, [[Joe Worzel]], and [[Paul Wuenschel]].
average. And what higher a professor’s glory than to count among  
+
 
his ahmmi the likes of Albert Crary, Milton Dobrin, William  
+
=== Honors awarded to Maurice Ewing ===
DOM, Jim Dorman, Charles Drake, Gordon Hamilton, Jim Hayes,  
+
* 1999 The Maurice Ewing a 299 ft research vessel owned by the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, is launched
Bruce Heezen, John Bracken Hersey, Sam Katz, Marcus Lang-
+
* 1997 Maurice Ewing Earth and Planetary Sciences Fund is established by the National Academy of Sciences
seth, Gary Latham, Bernie Luskin, Maurice Major, Edward  
+
* 1977 [[Maurice Ewing Medal]] is created as SEG's highest award
Miller, Charles Officer, Jack Oliver, Frank Press, H.M. Ruther-
+
* 1976 Maurice Ewing Medal is created, jointly awarded by the American Geophysical Union and the US Navy
ford, Nelson Steenland, Ivan Tolstoy, Allyn Vine, Joe Worxel,  
+
* 1974 Waiter H. Bucher Medal, American Geophysical Union; Distinguished Achievement Award, Offshore Technology Conference
and Paul Wuenschel. Dot was proud of their individual
+
* 1973 National Medal of Science; Robert Earl McConnell Award, American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers; Associate, Royal Astronomical Society (London);  Honorary Member, Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists; First Sproule Lecturer, University of Alberta; Member, Houston Philosophical Society
achievements, but his dreams couldn’t be contained in the halls of  
+
* 1972 Foreign Member, Royal Society (London); Alumni Gold Medal, Rice University
academe.
+
* 1971 Honorary doctor of science, Centre College of Kentucky
 +
* 1970 Honorary Member, Royal Society of New Zealand
 +
* 1969 Honorary doctor of science, Long Island University; Sesquicentennial Medal, St. Louis University; Wollaston Medal, Geological Society of London; Honorary Member, Soledad Colombiana de Geologia; Honorary doctor of science, U National de Colombia
 +
* 1968 Sidney Powers Memorial Medal, American Association of Petroleum Geologists; Honorary Member, American Association of Petroleum Geologists; Honorary doctor of science, University of Delaware
 +
* 1967 Third David Rivett Memorial Lecturer (CSIRO, Australia); Honorary Fellow, Indian Geophysical Union
 +
* 1966 Corresponding Member (New York), Academia Nacional de Cienclas Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales (Buenos Aires)
 +
* 1965 Vega Medal, Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography
 +
* 1964 Foreign Member, Geological Society of London; Gold Medal, Royal Astronomical Society (London)
 +
* 1963 Honorary doctor of science, University of Durham; John J. Carty Medal, National Academy of Sciences
 +
* 1962 Medal of Honor, Rice University
 +
* 1961 Cullum Geographical Medal, American Geographical Society; Joseph Priestley Award, Dickinson College
 +
* 1960 [[Vetlesen Prize]], Columbia University (the Nobel-equivalent for earth scientists); Honorary doctor of science, University of Rhode Island; Honorary doctor of laws, Dalhousie; John Fleming Medal, American Institute of Geonomy and Natural Resources
 +
* 1959 Member, American Philosophical Society
 +
* 1957 Honorary doctor of science, Lehigh University; Honorary doctor of science, University of Utrecht; William Bowie Medal, American Geophysical Union; Order of Naval Merit, Rank of Commander, Argentine Republic; Honorary Member, SEG
 +
* 1956 Foreign Member (Section for Sciences), Royal Netherlands; Academy of Sciences and Letters
 +
* 1955 Guggenheim Fellow; Agassiz Medal, National Academy of Sciences; Distinguished US Public Service Award, US Navy
 +
* 1952 Honorary doctor of science, University of Denver; Member, Philosophical Society of Texas; Guggenheim Fellow
 +
* 1951 Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
 +
* 1949 Honorary doctor of science, Washington and Lee University; Arthur L. Day Medalist, Geological Society of America
 +
* 1949 Member, National Academy of Sciences
 +
* 1938 Guggenheim Fellow
  
 +
=== External links ===
 +
* [http://library.seg.org/doi/pdf/10.1190/1.1436806 - ''Maurice Ewing'' by Dolores Proubasta, ''The Leading Edge Mar 1991, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 15-20'']
 +
* http://www.nasonline.org/publications/biographical-memoirs/memoir-pdfs/ewing-william.pdf
 +
{{search}}
  
=== Links ===
+
[[Category:American Geophysical Union]]
[http://library.seg.org/doi/pdf/10.1190/1.1436806 - Biography of Maurice Ewing]
 

Latest revision as of 14:17, 17 October 2016

William Ewing
Maurice Ewing headshot.png
Latest company Columbia University
BSc Mathematics and Physics
MSc Physics
PhD Physics
BSc university Rice University
MSc university Rice University
PhD university Rice University

William Maurice Ewing (May 12, 1906 – May 4, 1974) was an American geophysicist and pioneering oceanographer.

Biography

Source: Maurice Ewing by Dolores Proubasta, The Leading Edge Mar 1991, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 15-20 much of this page is quoted verbatim from this article.

Early years and Education

William Maurice Ewing was born on May 12, 1906, to Floyd and Hope Hamilton Ewing. Maurice (Pronounced Morris), like his six younger siblings, was heir to the self-discipline and hard work of a farming family that coaxed a livelihood from the harsh flats of the Texas Panhandle. Recreation and relaxation would remain foreign concepts throughout his life; Ewing worked twice as long and hard as anybody. There were no days off.

Ewing received a bachelor’s in 1926 with honors in math and physics, a master’s in 1927 in physics, and a doctorate in 1931 from Rice where he was Hohenthal Scholar (1923-26) and a Fellow in Physics (1926-29). To support himself, Ewing worked on seismic crews during the summers, and this was the extent of his formal training in geophysics.

Professional Career

1930 Mapping the Continental Shelf

After a year at the University of Pittsburgh as a physics instructor, in 1930 Ewing joined the Lehigh University faculty. Four years later, an unexpected visit by Professor Richard Field, of Princeton, and William Bowie, of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, altered the course of his career completely.

The geologic problem they hoped Ewing could unravel was whether the deep place where the continental shelf ends was a geologic fault or the result of outbuilding of sediment from the land. Field and Bowie, who knew about Ewing through papers he presented at the American Geophysical Union, thought that perhaps seismic measurements, with which Ewing had become familiar while working on crews, could be used in the investigation. The answer was affirmative, provided one had adequate equipment and a ship. As for Ewing’s willingness, he would sum it up years later in his biography, The Floor of the Sea: Maurice Ewing and the Search to Understand the Earth.

“If they had asked me to put seismic equipment on the moon instead of the bottom of the ocean I’d have agreed, I was so desperate for a chance to do research.” But then, according to his biographer, William Wertenbaker, “Ewing was desperate to learn something most of the time.”

1935 Explosion Seismology at Sea

With a $2000 grant from the Geological Society of America, Ewing set out in 1935 to do what had never been tried before explosion seismology at sea. On board the Coast Survey’s Oceanographer and later that year on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Atlantis, Ewing, with Albert Crary and H.M. Rutherford, began tests to trace the basement rock off the coast of Virginia in an outcrop almost to the edge of the continental shelf. Their outdated equipment was borrowed from an oil company that Ewing had worked for.

Using the seismic refraction method, Ewing determined that the continental shelf was a thick wedge of sediment (the tidelands where oil forms) underlain by the continental basement. The answer to Field and Bowie’s academic query didn’t, however, shake any foundations other than those of Ewing’s own career.

After his experience at sea, all he wanted to do thereon was solve the geophysical enigmas of the earth, and Ewing firmly believed that all the clues lay beneath the ocean basins. His attempts to obtain an annual grant from several major oil companies in return for the data he could gather regarding the offshore’s hydrocarbon potential were unsuccessful. His venture, he was told, wasn’t worth a cent of the shareholder’s money.

A grant from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation enabled Ewing to take an indefinite leave of absence from Lehigh which had just promoted him from assistant professor of physics to associate professor of geology. (He always felt that this grant was the turning point in his career.)

Ewing began conducting experiments in the North Atlantic basin assisted first by Crary and Rutherford and then by Allyn Vine (later of Alvin research sub fame), Norman Webster, George Woollard, and Joe Worzel. The challenges of moving their old-fashioned gear from 100 fathoms to the then-formidable depth of 1000 fathoms were compounded by limited access (two weeks a year) to the Atlantis. And considering that the ship’s main scientific objectives were other than Ewing’s, the most they managed to obtain during those two weeks was three to four good records.

Always pressed for time Ewing rigged ingenious data-gathering devices to work alongside the seismic equipment. One of those instruments was a deep-sea camera (the first ever) he and Vine had built on a shoestring grant from the National Geographic Society. No one else was interested in backing underwater photography because expert oceanographers maintained that water in depths greater than a few tens of fathoms was too murky to get any images of the bottom.

1940 Undersea Photography

The scientific community was indeed astounded when, in 1940, Ewing, his younger brother Robert, Vine, and Worzel obtained clear shots of ripples and bare cobbles (proving that currents existed at the bottom, something denied until then) and an abundance of animal life and tracks (contrary to biologists’ predictions). Just before the outbreak of World War II, Ewing accepted the offer of Columbus Iselin to work at Woods Hole on contracts from the newly created National Defense Research Committee. Iselin liked to say that he was just as impressed by Ewing’s acumen in math and physics as by the fact that he didn’t get seasick.

1941-1945 World War II Ocean acoustics and the SoFAR channel

As a research associate at Woods Hole, Ewing with Vine, Worzel, and Crary engaged in the application of underwater sound and photography to the problems of submarine warfare. Among Ewing’s contributions during the war years was Sound Transmission in Sea Water, the definitive manual on the physical and oceanographic factors that regulate underwater sound. One of its tenets was that the various temperature layers in seawater can refract sound (not unlike earth strata) and thus shield submarines from sonar detection. To solve this problem, Ewing and Vine resorted to the bathythermograph (which they promptly renamed BT). Developed by meteorologist Athelstan Spilhaus at Woods Hole, the BT, as it was lowered, made a continuous record of water temperature. However, since it took up to a minute for each reading, it was obviously too slow for defense purposes. Ewing and Vine soon had it converted to be used without having to stop the ship, making it a more effective instrument for naval operations.

Toward the end of the war, Ewing and Worzel developed a long-range system of underwater signaling. They detected, from 10 000 km away, a small TNT charge detonated in the deep-sound channel, a feature present in much of the ocean depths. The Sound Fixing And Ranging system--SOFAR was the Navy’s acronym-had possibilities in air-sea rescue, relief of submarines under attack, location of unknown sea mounts on an ocean-wide basis, explanation of the T-phase in earthquake seismology, and other naval and oceanographic operations. To Ewing, however, it was far more important that wartime research was developing techniques they could later use in peacetime science.

1946-1947 Exploration of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

In June 1946 Ewing assumed a chair at Columbia University (though he remained a research associate at Woods Hole) to lecture and do research in geophysics. Worzel, Nelson Steenland, and David Ericson went with him to Columbia. And, as expected, many of the remarkable discoveries of the ensuing period were made possible by instruments they had developed during the war.

For the first large Ewing-led expedition in the summer of ‘47 to explore the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, he had Atlantis outfitted with an echo sounder he and Worzel had modified to record soundings from depths up to 4000 fathoms-a capability never before realized. More (and, for the first time realistic) information was gathered about the Ridge during this voyage than had been since it was first discovered, or rather “suspected,” during the 1872- 76 Challenger Expedition. It turned out to be the planet’s single largest geologic feature, equal in area to all the dry land. Ewing described it as “millions of square miles of a tangled jumble of massive peaks, saw-toothed ridges, earthquake-shattered cliffs, valleys, lava formations of every conceivable shape.” And with Tolstoy and Heezen, Ewing concluded in a paper that “the Ridge is not at all like mountains on the continents.”

No less startling was the discovery of the great abyssal plains which proved, once again, that the topography of the ocean bottom was unlike anything terrestrial or imagined before. It appeared, in fact, that any notion previously entertained about the seafloor was suspect.

Improved instruments and Ewing’s drive to try anything presumably more efficient made his cruises far superior technically and scientifically to any previous attempts at marine exploration. For example, Ewing perfected underway seismic shooting without having to stop and start the ship. Instead, just before each TNT charge exploded, the line towing the hydrophones was released, allowing it to float inertly while the signals were recorded. The line was then hauled back. Ewing was very proud of this development.

Continued efforts to measure the thickness of sediments in the ocean basin at various locations culminated in the finding, by 1949, that it was, more or less uniformly, only 2000 ft thick. This made it possible to probe deeper.

“Unexpectedly,” Ewing wrote in 1955 in an unpublished report on the history of Lamont, “we were able to measure the thickness of the basaltic layer beneath the sediment and show that it was only about two miles in thickness. This constitutes the entire crust of the earth under the ocean basin, and the contrast between this thin crust and the crust twenty miles thick or so which underlies the continents, amounts to proof of the permanence of the ocean basins.” (Permanence was counter to the looming theory of seafloor spreading. More about this later.)

For every question answered, a thousand new ones arose. There were no bounds to the avenues of scientific query-if only, that is, they had full-time access to a ship and better facilities than three small rooms in a basement. At least one problem resolved itself just in time to prevent Ewing from leaving for MIT where he was offered everything he lacked at Columbia.

1949 Lamont Geological Observatory

In 1949, through a gift of the estate of the late Thomas W. Lamont to Columbia University, the Lamont Geological Observatory came into being with Ewing as its founding director. Liberated from their dungeon, his team moved about 24 km north of the university to the Lamont mansion, high above the Hudson River and, for their research purposes, conveniently away from the noise pollution of New York.

While Ewing considered the creation of Lamont the second milestone in his career, still nothing ranked higher in his wish list than gaining unlimited access to a ship. His association of nearly two decades with Atlantis had proven fruitful but often frustrating . And then Worzel found Vema, a 202 ft, three-masted schooner that, he felt, was everything they wanted. The only problem was its $100 000 price tag, an amount that Ewing couldn’t raise on short notice. Worzel pressed Ewing into borrowing the money from Columbia University lest they miss the chance to ever own a ship, especially one so fine.

Predictably, the RV Vema-the largest research ship in the world at the time-became Ewing’s most prized possession: a real laboratory. (Buildings, he used to say, were just places to store data.) Its first scientific voyage was in the spring of 1953, and from that moment on, the net effect the vessel had on Ewing’s research associates-already getting overcrowded and always overworked at the Lamont mansion---was that everyone’s workload quadrupled. Some of them were also required to risk life and limb at sea for months at a time

1954 Man overboard

Ewing himself had a close call in January 1954, while trying to secure some oil drums that had broken loose during a heavy sea between Cape Hatteras and Bermuda; he, along with his brother John and the ship’s first and second mates, Charles Wilkie and Mike Brown, were swept overboard. The superb seamanship of Captain MacMurry brought the ship full about time and again to rescue Brown, John Ewing, and finally after 45 minutes, Maurice. But Wilkie was never found.

Not even tragedy could slow the Roman-galley-like tempo of Vemu. Ewing’s insistence on exacting top efficiency out of the ship and her crew produced far more information than could be analyzed on board or back at Lamont. Most cumbersome were the numerous cores obtained on each voyage-even though working up the data of a single one could easily take a year. To his critics Ewing would simply say, ‘When you can show me two alike, I’ll stop and study them in detail.”

(In the hands of Jim Hays, Lloyd Burckle, and other paleontologists and sedimentologists, the large collection of Lamont cores became the cornerstone of modem paleoceanography, which is now being furthered by deep-sea scientific drilling.) A code was devised so Ewing could keep tabs of the daily booty of data. Worzel explains, “Each type of measurement could be reported by simply stating its assigned number. But Ewing wasn’t satisfied just knowing, for example, how many cores were taken; he wanted much more detail. Our codes ended up having 30 or 40 number groups detailing the work in progress, and these messages arrived in the lab every other day while the ship was at sea.”

Vema, which cris-crossed every ocean, was the first American research vessel in 1961 to sail around the world. The following year the Robert D. Conrad became Lamont’s second ship. In the ’50s and ‘60s, Ewing and the Lamont staff under his direction conceived most of the observation techniques for the study of the ocean floor. Marine seismologist George Shor of Scripps called Lamont-Doherty “the world’s greatest widget factory.” Those “absolutely magnificent widgets,” as Shor called them, made it possible for Lamont to produce more research per dollar than anyone else. They ushered in modem deep-sea technology with continuous soundings, precision depth recording, seismic refraction and reflection measurements and profiling, long-piston coring and simultaneous thermal gradient measurements, gravity measurements from surface ships, flux-gate and nuclear resonance magnetometer measurements, underwater photography, air-gun sound sources, deepwater sampling for radioactive measurements, nephelometry measurements, 3.5 kHz sonoprobe measurements, seismic buoys in conjunction with continuous profiling, oriented cores from the ocean floor, integrated measurements of phenomena from a single wire, and much more.

Long PhD's and a Large Number of Publications

Equally prolific was their literary output. Ewing was a great believer in the power of publication; he thought it a waste of time to write master’s or doctoral theses that weren’t acceptable in the scientific press. Which brings up another unique facet of Doc, the professor: the exceedingly long time his graduate students lingered at Columbia in the pursuit of a degree; 5-10 years wasn’t unusual.

This regime produced at least 367 bibliographical items attributable to Ewing, yet he was the sole author of only a few; the rest were joint efforts born of a curious sort of scientific bartering. As the late William Donn remembered, “He was great at starting research studies that were completed only because one of the faithful would be following behind. Many of us traded on his scientific appetite. Often, when I had an interesting and somewhat sticky wave-related problem, I would show him the observations and ask if he wanted to buy a piece of it. His eyes would light up, and he always bought in, leading to a successful conclusion of the study.” Back when Lamont was instituted in ‘49, a fund of about $50 000 was raised by the department chairman, John Kerr, from various oil and mining companies. The parsimonious use of these funds stretched them for four years. Afterwards, the brunt of money-raising for most of their needs fell on Ewing---something that would bear heavily on him for the following 22 years at the observatory.

Alas, “policy ,” as he used to say, “is sabotage originating in higher echelons.” Neither policy nor fiscal considerations however, tempered his hunger for science. Shortly after the move to the Lamont estate, Ewing started to expand on the earthquake seismology research that he had initiated at the Columbia campus where traffic noise had severely hampered their measurements. At first, this branch of investigation was pursued mainly by Ewing and graduate student Frank Press (now president of the National Academy of Sciences). Eventually they designed a seismograph far superior to any that existed and used it in a network of stations which later served as a model for the Worldwide Standardized Seismograph Network.

Late 1950s Maurice Ewing collaboration with Frank Press

A major development of the Ewing-Press partnership was the interpretation of the mysterious “coda” which appeared in seismograms only when an ocean lay between the source and the recording station. The phenomenon consists of great big swooping waves---surface waves----and seismologists considered it meaningless. Not so Ewing, who had noticed the coda’s recurrence in the records of the Coast and Geodetic Survey office during the war and was determined to understand its significance. Press and Ewing eventually identified most of the components of the coda as dispersive wave trains of Love and Raleigh waves, a knowledge that has greatly contributed to the study of the deep earth. This work culminated in 1957 in the classic book, Elastic Waves in Layered Media, by Ewing, Jardetzky, and Press. Other students worked on each of the various branches of geophysics of particular interest to Ewing.

1959 Ewing-Press Collaboration and Turbidity Currents

Turbidity currents, one of the chief forces that shape the ocean floor, were first proposed by Ewing and Bruce Heezen as they investigated the possible causes for the destruction of transatlantic telegraph cables 400 miles away from the epicenter of the 1929 Grand Banks earthquake. In 1952, Heezen was put in charge of drafting a map of the North Atlantic seafloor based on echo soundings obtained with the precision depth recorder developed at Lament. The result was a faithful and never-before imagined picture of the geologic and geographic features of the ocean floor. In 1959 the Geological Society of America published The Floors of the Oceans: The North Atlantic, by Ewing, Heezen, and Marie Tharp, a small book depicting-for the first time-the submerged landscape.

The Ewing-Heezen collaboration also identified the vast extent of the Mid-Ocean Ridge through the correlation of sounding and earthquake data. Joe Worzel, Ewing’s indefatigable lieutenant, was in charge of gravity measurements at sea. The goal was to collect enough of them to produce conclusive information on the crustal transition from ocean to continent, volcanic island arcs, mid-ocean ridges, oceanic islands and sea mounts, and the shape of the earth in general.

1960s Ocean Bottom Reflection Seismic and Drift Denial

Brother John Ewing, who is now senior scientist emeritus at Woods Hole, worked on ocean bottom reflection seismic. In 1960, he developed the seismic reflection profiler, which automatically converts echoes into a continuous tracing of strata beneath the seafloor. With this instrument, Lamont was fust able to visualize ancient layers of sediments and the shape of the crust underneath. A hundred thousand miles of records later, when Maurice Ewing saw the flatness of the old layers across the Atlantic and Pacific, he was reassured of the permanence of the ocean basins. HOW could buried sediments remain undisturbed if spreading and/or drifting were going on?

With William van Dorn he worked on ice origins. Confronted with the puzzle of Paleozoic glaciations in the southern hemisphere, van Dorn dared utter “continental drift” to his mentor as the only plausible answer to the phenomenon. Ewing examined the information and curtly replied, “You are probably right,” then changed the subject, but not his mind.

1947-1960s Marine Magnetics and Drift Denial

Yet another field of inquiry was marine magnetics, of which Ewing was an ardent proponent; he had been towing magnetometers behind his ships--which some considered a senseless effort since 1948. It was with Ewing’s marine magnetometer, one he converted from a WWII airborne model, that a pattern of marine magnetic reversals was first discovered by Raff and Mason of Scripps. However, as high as Ewing’s expectations were regarding the study of changes in the earth’s magnetic field, he didn't envision that it would rewrite the history of the earth’s surface the way it happened. It was up to his disciples and colleagues-Allen Cox, Dennis Hayes, Jim Heirtzler, Mark Langseth, Xavier Le-Pichon, Drummond Matthews, Jack Oliver, Nell Opdyke, Walter Pitman, Lynn Sykes, Manik Talwani, and Fred Vine, among others-to realize that the data accumulated strongly supported some mind-blowing concepts, i.e., seafloor spreading and continental drift. Withal, Lament remained a bastion of the anti-spread-and-drift mindset until 1965-66 when Pitman’s startling Elronin-19 magnetic profile made believers out of almost everyone (Ewing was reticent).

Some have speculated that Ewing might have brought earlier refinement to the far fetched sequent early “drifters” had he looked at the data with the eyes of a geologist. “Geologists spend their time poking around trying to explain this or that little detail,” he once complained. “I keep wanting to say, ‘Why don’t you try to see what’s making it all happen?"

Ignoring his own prescription, Ewing labeled the concepts of seafloor spreading and continental drift “rubbish” (a reaction, perhaps, to having overlooked their evidence in the first place) while countenancing their investigation and thus enabling those under his aegis to bring about the new age of geology. As Lamont prospered, the diversity of work also increased. Ewing, who couldn’t stay away from new scientific enticements, sometimes neglected those areas to which his knowledge and intuition were best suited. His contributions to half a dozen fields of science not withstanding, the hallmarks resulted from projects to which he paid sustained attention. Towering examples are his elucidations of the coda, turbidity currents, the oceanic crust, and the Mid-Ocean Ridge.

1969-1972 Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory to UT Galveston

In 1969, through a large grant from the Hemy L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation, the Observatory was renamed Lamont-Doherty, and it appeared that Ewing might be finally able to raise the salaries of his staff to “half’ (as he used to lament) what Woods Hole, Scripps, or other research institutions were paying their people. Eventually, the financial skirmishes that underlie all research proved too much for the scientist. In the spring of ‘72, Ewing shocked everyone with his resignation and unceremonious departure from the Observatory that would forever bear his imprint. He went to the University of Texas-Galveston to head its Marine Sciences Institute.

Death in 1974

Ewing was addressing the applications of multichannel CDP seismology in solving problems of the continent-ocean transition zone when a stroke claimed his life on May 4, 1974. In his lifetime, he had acquired over half the offshore geophysical information gathered until then. He proved that the ocean basins were more than mere water receptacles, turning oceanic research, as someone observed, “from a polite academic backwater into one of the most exciting fields of inquiry being pursued today.” Few possess the kind of scientific intuition that consistently identifies lines of inquiry leading to momentous discoveries. Ewing did so not only in the field of geophysics but in marine geology and seismology as well. And others have been working on the details ever since.

Former Students

Most if not all of his 200-plus graduate students achieved a measure of success well above the average. And what higher a professor’s glory than to count among his ahmmi the likes of Albert Crary, Milton Dobrin, William van Dorn, Jim Dorman, Charles Drake, Gordon Hamilton, Jim Hayes, Bruce Heezen, John Bracken Hersey, Sam Katz, Marcus Langseth, Gary Latham, Bernie Luskin, Maurice Major, Edward Miller, Charles Officer, Jack Oliver, Frank Press, H. M. Rutherford, Nelson Steenland, Ivan Tolstoy, Allyn Vine, Joe Worzel, and Paul Wuenschel.

Honors awarded to Maurice Ewing

  • 1999 The Maurice Ewing a 299 ft research vessel owned by the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, is launched
  • 1997 Maurice Ewing Earth and Planetary Sciences Fund is established by the National Academy of Sciences
  • 1977 Maurice Ewing Medal is created as SEG's highest award
  • 1976 Maurice Ewing Medal is created, jointly awarded by the American Geophysical Union and the US Navy
  • 1974 Waiter H. Bucher Medal, American Geophysical Union; Distinguished Achievement Award, Offshore Technology Conference
  • 1973 National Medal of Science; Robert Earl McConnell Award, American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers; Associate, Royal Astronomical Society (London); Honorary Member, Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists; First Sproule Lecturer, University of Alberta; Member, Houston Philosophical Society
  • 1972 Foreign Member, Royal Society (London); Alumni Gold Medal, Rice University
  • 1971 Honorary doctor of science, Centre College of Kentucky
  • 1970 Honorary Member, Royal Society of New Zealand
  • 1969 Honorary doctor of science, Long Island University; Sesquicentennial Medal, St. Louis University; Wollaston Medal, Geological Society of London; Honorary Member, Soledad Colombiana de Geologia; Honorary doctor of science, U National de Colombia
  • 1968 Sidney Powers Memorial Medal, American Association of Petroleum Geologists; Honorary Member, American Association of Petroleum Geologists; Honorary doctor of science, University of Delaware
  • 1967 Third David Rivett Memorial Lecturer (CSIRO, Australia); Honorary Fellow, Indian Geophysical Union
  • 1966 Corresponding Member (New York), Academia Nacional de Cienclas Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales (Buenos Aires)
  • 1965 Vega Medal, Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography
  • 1964 Foreign Member, Geological Society of London; Gold Medal, Royal Astronomical Society (London)
  • 1963 Honorary doctor of science, University of Durham; John J. Carty Medal, National Academy of Sciences
  • 1962 Medal of Honor, Rice University
  • 1961 Cullum Geographical Medal, American Geographical Society; Joseph Priestley Award, Dickinson College
  • 1960 Vetlesen Prize, Columbia University (the Nobel-equivalent for earth scientists); Honorary doctor of science, University of Rhode Island; Honorary doctor of laws, Dalhousie; John Fleming Medal, American Institute of Geonomy and Natural Resources
  • 1959 Member, American Philosophical Society
  • 1957 Honorary doctor of science, Lehigh University; Honorary doctor of science, University of Utrecht; William Bowie Medal, American Geophysical Union; Order of Naval Merit, Rank of Commander, Argentine Republic; Honorary Member, SEG
  • 1956 Foreign Member (Section for Sciences), Royal Netherlands; Academy of Sciences and Letters
  • 1955 Guggenheim Fellow; Agassiz Medal, National Academy of Sciences; Distinguished US Public Service Award, US Navy
  • 1952 Honorary doctor of science, University of Denver; Member, Philosophical Society of Texas; Guggenheim Fellow
  • 1951 Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 1949 Honorary doctor of science, Washington and Lee University; Arthur L. Day Medalist, Geological Society of America
  • 1949 Member, National Academy of Sciences
  • 1938 Guggenheim Fellow

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