Oral history of British science
Laughton, Anthony (Part 8 of 12). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee's home, Surrey
Laughton, Anthony, 1927- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 8: Story of production of three-dimensional contour chart of the Gulf of Aden by David Bickmore of the ‘Experimental Cartography Unit’ [ECU], Royal College of Art, London. Comments of involvement of Sir James Lighthill and David Rhind in ECU. [6:12] Story of origin of Deep Sea Drilling Project [DSDP] in earlier MOHOLE project; chronology of DSDP. Description of dynamic positioning of drilling ship; method of drilling Glomar Challenger [GC]. Mentions role of JOIDES (Joint Oceanographic Institutions Deep Earth Sampling Group). Story of origin of own involvement in DSDP; role as Co-Chief Scientist on DSDP’s Leg 12, 1970. Description of DSDP’s Leg 12 cruise. [14:38] Comments on own specific interest in evolution of North Atlantic, explored through results of drilling; decisions made in proposing drilling sites. [17:29] Positive comments on micro palaeontologists’ ability to date layers of sediment cores. [19:32] Comments on distinct groups onboard GC: scientists, drillers and seamen; relations between Captain, Co-Chief Scientists and Drilling Supervisor. Mentions catering; lack of alcohol; social activities. Comments on operation of company Global Marine; lack of social contact between scientists and drilling crew; application/modification of oil drilling technology; development of ability to re-enter previously drilled holes. [26:39] Description of cores of sediment recovered, including procedures for cutting, labelling, storing, archiving. Brief comments on teamwork between scientists of different disciplines on DSDP. [31:04] Comments on legal use of term ‘continental shelf’ [CS]. Story of origin of work for British Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] on definition of CS in relation to negations for UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS], from 1970s. Comments on legal and geographical complexities. [36:27] Story of proposed GEBCO global chart of CS; story of production of chart of CS and extensions, by MT, LGO; own role in reviewing MT’s chart, with BF, 1978. [39:14] Story of political interest in own work (with David Roberts [DR]) on Rockall Plateau [RP] and Rockall Trough [RT], including summons to FCO meeting to discuss draft paper. [42:11] Story of late 1970s intercessional meeting of UNCLOS in Moscow on ‘natural prolongation of the continental landmass beyond the 200 mile limit’, including security measures. Comments on use of science in this meeting, including lack of display of maps. [49:45] Detailed comments on/discussion of changes to Rockall paper in relation to political sensitivity. [55:03] Comments on MT’s chart of CS, based on PD. Story of meeting in UN building, New York at which MT’s chart was reviewed. [1:00:05] Description of role of International Sea Bed Authority [ISBA] and Commission for the Limits of the Continental Shelf [CLCS] in assessing national claims to oceanic territory. Detailed comments on use of geophysical data in applications to ISBA/CLCS, including effect of PT on complexity of this data. [1:06:08] Comments on work of NIO and succeeding institutes (Institute of Oceanographic Sciences [IOS]; National Oceanography Centre [NOC]) in providing evidence for/against national claims. [1:07:50] Story of relations between Geology Group and Geophysics Group at NIO, including formation of combined Group, led by AL, early 1970s. [1:15:28] Comments on changes to structure of Groups at time of move to NOC, Southampton.
Interview with Oceanographer Sir Anthony Laughton.