Morley

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Lawrence Whittaker Morley (born 1920) entered the U of Toronto to study Math & Physics in 1938. In 1940 his studies were interrupted by WW2 when the Canadian Navy recruited him to train in the then top-secret but rapidly evolving technology of radar defense. He subsequently served as a Radar Officer on a number of allied vessels during the Battle of the Atlantic, ultimately finishing the war in command of a Canadian corvette.

Following the war he worked briefly for Gulf Oil, managing an airborne magnetometer survey crew in Columbia and Venezuela. In 1947 he returned to the U of Toronto, this time to pursue a PhD in the Physics Department under Professor Tuzo Wilson.

Morley graduated in 1951 with a thesis in Paleomagnetism and was recruited by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) to start up a Geophysics Program. Over 20 years at the GSC he was fortunate in being able to recruit a team of highly regarded scientists - all specialists in both theoretical and applied geophysics. The team was highly productive and generated a considerable volume of original research.

Morley felt strongly that it was the greater responsibility of government to leverage science to economically benefit both Canada and the world. To this end he convinced the Canadian government to fund a number of nation-wide airborne geophysics surveys. The most famous of these was a 20-year airborne magnetometer program to survey all of Canada. The program is credited with the discovery of a huge number of significant economic mineral deposits, paying for itself many times over while contributing to fundamental knowledge in geomagnetism.

In 1961 Morley attended a conference at Scripps where the initial results of a ship-towed magnetometer survey over a large area of the East Pacific were presented (need reference). The presenters admitted they were puzzled by a bizarre, yet unmistakable pattern of N-S striping in their contoured map of remnant magnetism in the seafloor. None of the attendees knew what to make of it and Morley returned home equally befuddled.

A week later he awoke to what he later described as a Eureka moment. Wegner had been right all along! Morley had worked in Paleomagnetism as a student so was highly familiar with geomagnetic pole reversals. He realized that as mantle magma welled up from the mid-Pacific ridge it would cool through the Curie Point and align with the ambient magnetic field present in then geologic time. As newly formed oceanic crust moved away from its point of origin it left a smoking gun in the form of a magnetically striped 'conveyer belt'.