Oral history of British science

Vine, Fred (Part 10 of 12). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewees home, Norwich

  • Interviewees

    Vine, Frederick, 1939- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 10: Long story of development of interest in ophiolites (terrestrial sections of oceanic crust involved in continental collision), including relations with earlier interest in formation of oceanic crust, influence of HH’s work on serpentonites, influence of Eldridge Moores’ [EM] work on the Vourinos ophiolite, northern Greece. [7:36] Description of constituents of ophiolites of European Alps: serpentonites/ultramafic, gabbro, pillow lavas, deep sea sediments. Mentions HH’s opposition to idea of ophiolites as sea floor. [8:26] Story of selection of ophiolite to study with EM: the Troodos massif [TM], Cyprus. Description of TM. [10:40] Brief story of 1968-1969 fieldwork in TM, funded by US NSF (National Science Foundation), including findings, publications. Mentions subsequent work, TM with Joe Cann [JC], Rupert Kidd [RK], Simon Allerton. Story of expansion of scientific interest in TM, into late 1980s. [13:04] Comments on geochemistry indicating TM ophiolites formed by ‘back arc’ spreading. Mentions holiday in Iceland, 2000. [15:06] Comments on how processes of SFS can be examined in ophiolite exposures; petrologist JC’s work on formation of crust at mid ocean ridge, including Deep Sea Drilling program, use of submersibles. [18:07] Description of fieldwork on TM, including geological mapping, palaeomagnetism, 1968, 1969. Story of palaeomagnetism project, Yellowstone National Park [YNP], while at PU, 1966, 1967. Comments on period in magnetic reversal timescale of normal magnetisation for 40 million years. [23:53] Description of palaeomagnetism fieldwork, YNP, including use of drill, sun compass, orientation tube, marker pen, notebook. [27:30] Detailed description of use of flux-gate magnetometer at PU. Comments on publications, early 1970s; principal role as palaeomagnetist on TM. [31:23] Description of late 1960s work (unpublished at the time) with JM on marine geophysics, especially process of ‘random intrusion’ at ridge crest and relations between speed of spreading rate and width of ‘zone of intrusion’. Mentions recent publication of this work [2003]. Story of discovery in north eastern Pacific of first example of what were later called ‘triple junctions’. [37:21] Mentions dates of birth of children (Rachel: 1966, Stephen: 1968); wife Sue’s focus on domestic work/childcare in US. Comments on travel to field sites/lectures accompanied by family. Story of such travel in Europe, 1969, including Greek women’s fascination with son Stephen’s blonde curls. Story of driving holiday with wife 1966 to and from YNP field site; 1967 travel to YNP with wife and daughter, including drive across Canada; acceptance of Geological Society of America medal in Mexico City, 1968 while wife giving birth to Stephen. [54:34] Comments on wife’s tendency not to assist in fieldwork. Mentions family camping; Sue’s help in drafting diagrams, including those in 1966 sea floor spreading paper. [46:52] Story of 1973 fieldwork on TM, Cyprus, including aims, own role in identifying sites for JC and research student, base in Kyrenia on northern coast at which families of FV and JC enjoyed beach holiday. [52:00] Comments on popular interest in PT, late 1960s/1970s. Mentions BBC Horizon programme, TDOTC; collection of press cuttings. Comments on Walter Sulllivan’s articles on PT in ‘New York Times’. Mentions features in ‘Nature’, ‘New Scientist’; own entry in Reader’s Digest encyclopaedia, US ‘Journal of Geological Education’. Story of involvement in BBC’s 1972 ‘The Restless Earth’ [TRE] (says ‘Continents in Collision’), scripted by Nigel Calder, produced by Philip Daly. Comments on rapid inclusion of PT in school curricula; tendency for people to assume that PT is an older theory; greater opposition to PT in US than Britain. [59:31] Story of involvement in design of Earth Science curriculum for Open University [OU], established in late 1960s, through relations with OU’s first Professor of Earth Sciences, Ian Gass [IG]. [1:02:18] Story of recording programme for ‘21st Century Science’ schools programme, including reactions to it from teachers; follow-up talk to school children. Mentions earlier school/popular recordings including BBC World Service, OU television and radio, TDOTC, TRE, 1997 BBC programme ‘Earth Story’, ‘Eureka moments’ radio programme; recent recording on Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada and for BBC. Comments on recent/current recordings/consultation/writing on history of CD/PT, including link to own early retirement. [1:07:08] Further comments on talks about CD/PT to young people, including slides shown.

  • Description

    Interview with geologist Professor Fred Vine.

  • Related transcripts

    Professor Fred Vine interviewed by Dr Paul Merchant: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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