Oceanography Pioneer Awarded Honorary Doctorate at University of Southampton

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A distinguished post-war marine geologist has been made an Honorary Doctor of Science at the University of Southampton

The 92-year-old oceanographer Anthony Laughton was nominated for the Doctorate by Southampton Professor of Geochemistry Damon Teagle, who also acts as Director of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute.

Sir Laughton, born in 1927, was a major pioneer of ocean studies after the Second World War, working to map and photograph seafloor features, a process which has contributed significantly to human understanding of seafloor spreading (where oceanic crust formed through volcanic activity gradually dissipates from the ridge) and plate tectonics.

Most of Laughton’s career was spent at what is now known as the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences in Southampton, for which he served as Director between the years 1978 and 1988, at which stage he retired from his work. One notable achievement of Sir Anthony’s extensive career came in the mid-1980s when he met with ~Don Hodel, the United States Secretary of the Interior under President Ronald Reagan, to discuss the US Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 200 nautical miles off the coast of the USA. This came about as Sir Anthony’s conributions to sonar-based research of ocean floors have been important in establishing the claims of different nations to the underlying resources in the water.

As part of his work in the 1960s, Laughton and his team of oceanographers at the Institute of Ocean Sciences developed the Geologic Long Range Inclined Asdic (GLORIA), which was towed behind a ship to collect acoustic pictures of the sea floor over a distance of 22 kilometres.

Professor Teagle, the Southampton professor who nominated Sir Anthony for the Doctorate, said, ‘[m]y and future generations of marine geologists and ocean scientists owe huge debts of inspiration to the ambition, ingenuity and perseverance of the heroic generations of scientists who led the development of ocean sciences in the decades following the Second World War‘.

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