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Fellows Directory

Dan McKenzie

Credit: Professor Dan McKenzie

Professor Dan McKenzie CH FRS


Elected: 1976


Dan McKenzie’s work focuses on the mechanics of the Earth. With Robert L. Parker he wrote the earliest paper on plate tectonics. Since then he has made a general study of the history of the ocean basins. In his paper with Jason Morgan on the geometry of the motion of three plates on a sphere, he found a beautiful explanation of the ‘great magnetic bight’ in the Pacific, which had been one of the principle difficulties in the acceptance of plate tectonics. Dan’s other papers have studied the cooling of a plate after it is formed on the ridge axis, and accounted for the broad variations of ocean depth and heat flow across a ridge. His interests also include the theory of convection in the mantle, and the generation of magma, its separation from its source regions and its geochemistry.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


geophysics geochemistry, Igneous geology


  • Balzan Prize

    For geology and geophysics.

  • Copley Medal

    For his seminal contributions to the understanding of geological and geophysical phenomena including tectonic plates.

  • Crafoord Prize

    In the field of geosciences for dynamics of the lithosphere.

  • Japan Prize

    In the field of earth Science for initiation of the theory of plate tectonics and contributions to its development.

  • Royal Medals

    In recognition of his seminal role in developing a quantitative understanding of a wide range of geophysical and geological processes, including plate tectonics, mantle convection, continental deformation and melt segregation.

  • Rutherford Memorial Lecture

    Given in New Zealand.