Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis

The observed magnetic profile for the seafloor 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

The first key scientific test of the seafloor spreading theory of continental drift and plate tectonics.

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

5 related topics

Alpha

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

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.

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

Frederick Vine (right) and Drummond Matthews, 1981

Frederick Vine

English marine geologist and geophysicist.

English marine geologist and geophysicist.

Frederick Vine (right) and Drummond Matthews, 1981
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 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.

Abraham Ortelius by Peter Paul Rubens, 1633

Continental drift

Hypothesis that the Earth's continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have "drifted" across the ocean bed.

Hypothesis that the Earth's continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have "drifted" across the ocean bed.

Abraham Ortelius by Peter Paul Rubens, 1633
Antonio Snider-Pellegrini's Illustration of the closed and opened Atlantic Ocean (1858)
Alfred Wegener
Fossil patterns across continents (Gondwanaland)
Mesosaurus skeleton, MacGregor, 1908

The best explanation was the "conveyor belt" or Vine–Matthews–Morley hypothesis.

Drummond Matthews (left) and Frederick Vine, 1981

Drummond Matthews

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

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.

Age of the sea floor. Much of the dating information comes from magnetic anomalies.

Walter C. Pitman III

American geophysicist and a professor emeritus at Columbia University.

American geophysicist and a professor emeritus at Columbia University.

Age of the sea floor. Much of the dating information comes from magnetic anomalies.

His measurements of magnetic anomalies on the ocean floor supported the Morley–Vine–Matthews hypothesis explaining seafloor spreading.