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Frederick Vine

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Frederick Vine

Frederick Vine
Born (1939-06-17) 17 June 1939
Nationality British
Fields marine geologist
Institutions University of East Anglia
Alma mater St John's College, Cambridge
Notable awards Arthur L. Day Medal (1968)
Bigsby Medal (1971)
Chapman Medal (1973)
FRS (1974)
Appleton Medal and Prize (1977)
Balzan Prize (1981)
Hughes Medal (1982)
Prestwich Medal (2007)

Frederick John Vine FRS (born 17 June 1939) is an English marine geologist and geophysicist. He made key contributions to the theory of plate tectonics, helping to show that the seafloor spreads from mid-ocean ridges with a symmetrical pattern of magnetic reversals in the basalt rocks on either side.


  • Early life 1
  • Plate Tectonics 2
  • Academic career 3
  • Honours 4
  • Publications 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Vine was born in Chiswick,[1] London, and educated at Latymer Upper School and St John's College, Cambridge[2] where he studied Natural Sciences (BA, 1962) and marine geophysics (PhD, 1965).[3]

Plate Tectonics

The observed magnetic profile for the sea floor around a mid-oceanic ridge agrees closely with the profile predicted by the Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis.

Vine's PhD thesis was on 'Magnetism in the Seafloor', supervised by Drummond Matthews. Having met Harry Hess he was aware of sea floor spreading, where the ocean bed acts as a 'conveyor belt' moving away from the central ridge.[4] Vine's work, with that of Drummond Matthews and Lawrence Morley of the Geological Survey of Canada, helped put the variations in the magnetic properties of the ocean crust into context in what is now known as the Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis. Specifically they supported Dietz's (Nature 1961) idea that sea floor spreading was occurring at mid-ocean ridges. Vine and Matthews showed that basalt created at a mid-ocean ridge records earth's current magnetic field polarity (and strength), thus turning Hess's theoretical 'conveyor belt' into a 'tape recorder'.[4] Furthermore, they showed that magnetic reversals 'frozen' into these rocks, as suggested by Allan Cox (Nature 1963),[5] can be seen as parallel strips as you travel perpendicularly away from the ridge crest.[4]

Academic career

Vine worked with E. M. Moores on the Ophiolite in the Troodos mountains of southern Cyprus. He worked with R. A. Livermore and A. G. Smith on the history of the Earth's magnetic field.[2] He worked on the electrical conductivity of rocks from the lower continental crust with R. G. Ross and P. W. J. Glover, which culminated in 1992 with measurements of the electrical conductivity of graphite-rich amphibolites and granulites at lower crustal temperatures and pressures with a full water saturation and pore fluid pressure.[6] and graphite-free[7]

In 1967, Vine became assistant professor of geology and geophysics at Princeton University. In 1970 he moved to the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, becoming Professor there in 1974. He served as Dean from 1977–1980, and again from 1993–1998. Since 1998, he has been a Professorial Fellow of the University of East Anglia.[2] As of 2008 he was an Emeritus Professor there.[3]


Vine's honours include:


  • Vine, F. J. (2001). "Reversals of fortune". In Oreskes, N. An insider's history of the modern theory of the Earth. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. pp. 46–66. [3][8]
  • Glover, P.W.J.; Vine, F.J. (1992). "Electrical conductivity of carbon bearing granulite at raised temperatures and pressures". Nature 360 (6406): 723–726.  [6]
  • Glover, P.W.J.; Vine, F.J. (1992). "Electrical conductivity of the continental crust". Geophys.Res.Lett. 21: 2357–2360.  [7]
  • Vine, F. J.; Matthews, D H (1963). "Magnetic anomalies over oceanic ridges". Nature 199 (4897): 947–949.  [8]
  • Vine, F. J. (2003). " [3] 
  • Kearey, Philip; Klepeis, Keith A.; Vine, Frederick J. (2009). Global tectonics (3 ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 482. First edition: 1990, second edition: 1996.  

See also


  1. ^ "Oral History of British Science: Vine, Fred" (PDF). British Library. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Profile at
  3. ^ a b c d University of East Angliea – Fred Vine profile
  4. ^ a b c BBC / Open University broadcast series Earth Story, Vine interviewed by Professor Aubrey Manning
  5. ^ Cox A, Dalrymple GB, Doell RR. "Geomagnetic Polarity Epochs and Pleistocene Geochronometry". Nature 198 (4885): 1049.  
  6. ^ a b Glover, P.W.J.; Vine, F.J. (1992). "Electrical conductivity of carbon bearing granulite at raised temperatures and pressures". Nature 360 (6406): 723–726.  
  7. ^ a b Glover, P.W.J.; Vine, F.J. (1992). "Electrical conductivity of the continental crust". Geophys.Res.Lett. 21: 2357–2360.  
  8. ^ a b Bowler, Sue (5 May 2007). "Earth on a plate". Geoscientist online. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 

External links

  • Fred Vine explaining Paleomagnetic reversals on YouTube
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