I Feel the Earth Move
The Low Down · 16 minutes ·

I Feel the Earth Move

Fifty years ago, a graduate student named Walter Pitman made a discovery that would change the way we see our planet. It was late at night, and Pitman was reviewing charts of ship data that had just come off the computer at what was then Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Observatory. The ship, the Eltanin, had crossed a mid-ocean ridge – part of a 40,000-mile undersea volcanic mountain chain that encircles the Earth – while recording the magnetic alignment of the rocks in the seafloor below.

Pitman suddenly saw symmetry in those recorded lines, with the mid-ocean ridge as the center point. “It was like being struck by lightning,” he said.
That symmetry was the smoking gun that confirmed the theory of seafloor spreading and set the stage for our understanding today of plate tectonics.

On May 23-34, join the symposium marking the 50th anniversary of this discovery: http://cualu.ms/1R6xCD4

MORE COLUMBIA NEWS:
https://alumni.columbia.edu
http://thelowdown.alumni.columbia.edu

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