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50 Years of Ocean Discovery: National Science Foundation 1950—2000
from ONR and set up styles of doing business that were very reminiscent of ONR methods of operation. The community was still small enough that NSF program managers could take a very personal interest in the investigators they supported and mentor career development. Compared with their academic equivalents, program managers were well paid in those days, and it was considered a very prestigious position.
The community of ocean scientists was small enough and centralized enough in the 1960s and 1970s that NSF program managers could visit their constituents on a regular basis. I recall as a graduate student at Scripps in the mid-1970s sharing a Mexican meal at an inexpensive Del Mar restaurant with an NSF program manager and a number of more senior graduate students. I doubt any of my own graduate students have had a similar experience. Although the NSF MG&G program managers did not conduct ONR-type site reviews, they began the tradition of tagging along on ONR's own site reviews. (One worldly investigator insists that NSF's main function at these meetings was to prevent double-dipping for travel to cruises jointly funded by NSF and ONR.)
Dick Von Herzen recalls sitting on Wall' s MG&G panel in the late 1960s. At the time, NSF was funding blocks of related proposals from the oceanographic institutions that would provide the ship funds, travel money, et cetera, to support a sequence of interrelated research legs. Research planning for these expeditions was a group effort conducted within each institution. Each leg of an expedition tended to be multidisciplinary, with physicists, chemists, geologists, and biologists sharing the same ship. Emphasis was on making every conceivable co-located measurement, since almost everything was being observed for the first time. Dick says it was not until well into the 1970s that he recalls writing his first "heat flow proposal," in which the expedition was devoted to heat flow observations and all ancillary data collection was justified on the basis of needing it to interpret the heat flow data.
THE THREE INSTITUTIONS
During the 1960s and early 1970s, the three major institutions conducting research in marine geology and geophysics (Lamont, Scripps, and Woods Hole) had very different characters, and these characters were reflected in the form of NSF support.
Lamont could be best described as a dictatorship. Maurice Ewing exerted strong leadership, on the sorts of data to be collected, the route of the ships, and the research being addressed. Of the 600 papers published at Lamont between 1950 and 1965, Ewing was co-author on 150 of them and first author on 55. The block funding for institutional operations from ONR and NSF enabled a visionary like Ewing to set a firm course for Lamont. He insisted that his ships run their precision depth recorders at all times; tow magnetometers; and stop every day for a core, a bottom temperature measurement, and in later years, a heat flow station. His strategy in cruise planning was to keep his ships circling the Earth ("like two moons"), collecting data where no oceanographic ship had gone before. Ewing established a cataloging system to keep an inventory of samples collected on each expedition and was regularly in touch by radio with his ships, sometimes even directing the sampling from shore. Ewing' s system was such that it was clear if there was a gap in the record that a daily sample was missed. Jim Cochran recalls sailing as chief scientist on Lamont's ship, the Vema, right after obtaining his Ph.D. His surveying was going so well that he neglected to stop for the daily core. In less than 24 hours, Captain Kohler (gleefully) delivered to him a tersely worded message from Ewing expressing his displeasure with the young chief scientist' s failure to follow orders.
The depth and magnetic anomaly data amassed by Lamont in its first two decades were key in establishing the validity of the plate tectonic theory (although Ewing was at first a vocal critic of the Vine and Matthews hypothesis). Lamont cores were instrumental in establishing global climate history. Underway data from Lamont's ships dominated the geophysical data banks. Lamont led the way in perfecting the use of geophysical surveying and sampling systems in the oceans, including the use of marine magnetometers, marine seismic reflection, precision depth recorders, piston cores, heat flow probes, and marine gravimeters (although others, including Sir Edward Bullard and Vening Meinesz, were the true pioneers). There had been much pessimism whether some of these methods, especially the seismic and gravity methods so central to terrestrial geophysical exploration, could ever be used at sea. Lamont scientists under Ewing's leadership demonstrated not .rely that these techniques could be used in the oceans, but that they gave even better data with cleaner signal in the marine environment. In retrospect, it might appear that Ewing's foresight was 20-20. Lamont-Doherty became a vast storehouse for marine data and samples just waiting to confirm the new theories after they were proposed. But in some respects Ewing was lucky as well. For example, Bill Curry tells me that many of the key deep-sea cores that figured so prominently in reconstructing Cenozoic climate were actually collected for the purpose of determining thermal conductivity for heat flow measurements. In fact, to this day, we are still scratching our heads trying to make sense of the widely scattered heat flow measurements acquired on Lamont vessels.
Sir Edward Bullard once asked Ewing why he kept taking so many cores. He answered:
I go on collecting because now I can get the money; in a few years it will not be there anymore, then I shall have the material to keep my people busy for years. (Menard, 1986, p. 269)