Frederick Vine (right) and Drummond Matthews, 1981
The observed magnetic profile for the seafloor around a mid-oceanic ridge agrees closely with the profile predicted by the Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis.
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.
Magnetic anomalies off west coast of North America. Dashed lines are spreading centers on mid-ocean ridges

Geophysicist Frederick John Vine and the Canadian geologist Lawrence W. Morley independently realized that if Hess's seafloor spreading theory was correct, then the rocks surrounding the mid-oceanic ridges should show symmetric patterns of magnetization reversals using newly collected magnetic surveys.

- Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis

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.

- Frederick Vine
Frederick Vine (right) and Drummond Matthews, 1981

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Overall

Geomagnetic polarity during the last 5 million years (Pliocene and Quaternary, late Cenozoic Era). Dark areas denote periods where the polarity matches today's normal polarity; light areas denote periods where that polarity is reversed.

Geomagnetic reversal

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Change in a planet's magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged .

Change in a planet's magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged .

Geomagnetic polarity during the last 5 million years (Pliocene and Quaternary, late Cenozoic Era). Dark areas denote periods where the polarity matches today's normal polarity; light areas denote periods where that polarity is reversed.
Geomagnetic polarity since the middle Jurassic. Dark areas denote periods where the polarity matches today's polarity, while light areas denote periods where that polarity is reversed. The Cretaceous Normal superchron is visible as the broad, uninterrupted black band near the middle of the image.
NASA computer simulation using the model of Glatzmaier and Roberts. The tubes represent magnetic field lines, blue when the field points towards the center and yellow when away. The rotation axis of the Earth is centered and vertical. The dense clusters of lines are within the Earth's core.

In 1963, Frederick Vine and Drummond Matthews provided a simple explanation by combining the seafloor spreading theory of Harry Hess with the known time scale of reversals: new sea floor is magnetized in the direction of the then-current field.

The Morley–Vine–Matthews hypothesis was the first key scientific test of the seafloor spreading theory of continental drift.

Drummond Matthews (left) and Frederick Vine, 1981

Drummond Matthews

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British marine geologist and geophysicist and a key contributor to the theory of plate tectonics.

British marine geologist and geophysicist and a key contributor to the theory of plate tectonics.

Drummond Matthews (left) and Frederick Vine, 1981

His work, along with that of fellow Briton Fred Vine and Canadian Lawrence Morley, showed how variations in the magnetic properties of rocks forming the ocean floor could be consistent with, and ultimately help confirm, Harry Hammond Hess's 1962 theory of seafloor spreading.

Confirmation of the Earth's polarity reversals a few years later not only further validated the Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis but provided a timescale allowing the rate of spreading to be estimated for each section of ocean ridge.