Lawrence Whitaker Morley Geochemistry and Geochronology

First to suggest that magnetic striping in the Earth's crust was produced by repeated reversals of the Earth's magnetic field

The Story

In 1963 Morley proposed the theory of magnetic imprinting of ocean floors by the earth’s reversing magnetic field, which led to the theory of plate tectonics—the idea that the earth’s crust is made of a system of floating plates that grind together to create earthquakes. In 1952 Morley was the first geophysicist to be appointed to the Geological Survey of Canada where he served for 17 years as Chief of the Geophysics Division. Morley instigated the Aeromagnetic Survey Plan and Resource Satellite Planning for Canada, and became the founding director general of the Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing. He was also the founding director of the Institute for Space and Terrestrial Science. In 1990 he returned to his consulting practice, working in the area of digital photogrammetry and image analysis. He received the McCurdy medal in 1974 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Sources: Canadian Who’s Who 1993; photo from Ontario Association of Remote Sensing; More at Globe and Mail obituary.


The Person

February 19, 1920
Toronto, Ontario
Date of Death
April 23, 2013
Place of Death
Owen Sound, Ontario
Family Members
  • Wife: Beverly Beckworth
  • Son: David, and five other children
Engineer; President
Teledetection International
  • BSc University of Toronto, 1946
  • PhD University of Toronto, 1952
  • Officer of the Order of Canada, 1999
  • McCurdy medal, 1974
Last Updated
May 15, 2013
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