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Fellows Directory

Frederick Vine

Frederick Vine

Professor Frederick Vine FRS


Elected: 1974


Frederick Vine is best known for his work on the magnetic lineations observed at sea. He has written a number of papers (some alone, some with other authors) in which these are explained as a ‘tape recording’ of the reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field on the moving floor of the ocean. This work has had a decisive influence on the wide acceptance of the ideas of sea floor spreading and continental drift. He also examined the rocks of the Troodos mountains in Cyprus, and showed, following the work of Ian Gass and others, that these rocks are a specimen of an ancient sea floor showing the mantle overlain by gabbros, dykes, pillow lavas and deep-sea sediments.

Professional positions

Emeritus Professor, University of East Anglia, School of Psychology

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Geology, Geophysics
  • Other
    • History of science


Palaeomagnetism, sea floor spreading, plate tectonics, ophiolites


  • Balzan Prize

    For geology and geophysics.

  • Hughes Medal

    For their elucidation of the magnetic properties of the ocean floors which subsequently led to the plate tectonic hypothesis.

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