Maurice Ewing in 1948. Photo courtesy Columbia University
University of Texas
|Alma mater||Rice University|
|Notable awards||numerous (see text)|
William Maurice "Doc" Ewing (May 12, 1906 – May 4, 1974) was an American geophysicist and oceanographer.
Ewing has been described as a pioneering geophysicist who worked on the research of seismic reflection and refraction in ocean basins, ocean bottom photography, submarine sound transmission (including the SOFAR channel), deep sea coring of the ocean bottom, theory and observation of earthquake surface waves, fluidity of the Earth's core, generation and propagation of microseisms, submarine explosion seismology, marine gravity surveys, bathymetry and sedimentation, natural radio-activity of ocean waters and sediments, study of abyssal plains and submarine canyons.
He was born in Lockney, Texas, where he was the eldest child of a large farm family. He won a scholarship to attend Rice University, earning a B.A. with honors in 1926. He completing his graduate studies at the same institution, earning an M.A. in 1927 and being awarded his Ph.D. in 1931. In 1928 he was married to Avarilla Hildenbrand, and the couple had a son.
He moved to Columbia University, becoming a professor of geology in 1947. In 1959 he was named the Higgins Professor of Geology at Columbia. Dr. Ewing (often simply called 'Doc' by those who worked with him) was the founder (established in 1949) and first director of Lamont Geological Observatory (now known as Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) in Palisades, New York) where he worked with J. Lamar Worzel (gravity specialist), Dr. Frank Press (seismologist), Jack Nafe, and Jack Oliver. The former LDEO research vessel R/V Maurice Ewing was named in his honor.
He divorced a second time, and married Harriet Greene Bassett in 1965. In 1972 he joined the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and was named the head of the Division of Earth and Planetary Sciences of the Marine Biomedical Institute.
During his career he published over 340 scientific papers. He served as president of the American Geophysical Union and the Seismological Society of America. He led over 50 oceanic expeditions. He made many contributions to oceanography, including the discovery of the SOFAR Channel, and did much work fundamental on plate tectonics. He was the chief scientist on board the Glomar Challenger. He came up with the idea behind Project Mogul.