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Plate Tectonics at 50

last modified Oct 11, 2017 11:42 AM
The Geological Society of London has launched its new archive of Emeritus Professor Dan McKenzie’s work.
Plate Tectonics at 50

Prof. Dan McKenzie © Mark Wrigley.

2017 marks 50 years since Dan McKenzie and Bob Parker published “The North Atlantic: an Example of Tectonics on a Sphere”. The 1967 Nature paper, as well as work by Jason Morgan at Princeton, first explained the mathematical theory behind plate tectonics using evidence from magnetic anomalies and earthquakes.

To mark the occasion, The Geological Society of London held a 3-day event at the start of October 2017, where Dan delivered the William Smith lecture to close the conference. An archive has also been established, containing much of his life’s work.

Artefacts in the archive include:

Fortran punchcards: “For someone who was learning to compute, this was amazingly frustrating. It took me three weeks just to get the computer to read in the sequence ‘1 2 3 4’ and print out ‘1 2 3 4’,” said McKenzie. “But by the end of the next three weeks I was doing contour integrals with complex variables.”

Fieldwork photos, here in Japan.

And original figures from the 1967 paper.

To find out more about the project, visit

The full archive is also searchable at*.

All images © The Geological Society McKenzie Archive.