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Lawrence W. Morley


Larry Morley is a native of Toronto. He received his early education in Collingwood, Owen Sound and Lakefield College School, Ontario.

He graduated in Physics and Geology from the University of Toronto in 1946, his undergraduate training having been interrupted by war service for four years with the Royal Navy as a radar officer. After the war, he pioneered with Gulf Research and Development Company of Pittsburgh and with Fairchild Aerial Surveys in the use of the airborne magnetometer for mineral and petroleum exploration, working in Venezuela, Columbia and Canada. In 1949, he returned to the University of Toronto for his Master's and Ph.D. in geophysics, working in palaeomagnetism under the late Professor J. Tuzo Wilson.

He was the first geophysicist to be appointed to the Geological Survey of Canada in 1952 where he served for 17 years as Chief of the Geophysics Division. In 1960, he was instrumental in promoting the Federal/Provincial Aeromagnetic Survey Program. Under this program, the air survey companies eventually completed aeromagnetic surveys for the whole of Canada, and as a result, more than 7,000 1:63,360 scale aeromagnetic maps were published. These maps assisted the mining companies in discovering billions of dollars worth of economic mineral deposits over the next 30 years.

Under his leadership, the Division was responsible also for delineating all the sedimentary basins on the surrounding continental shelves and in Hudson Bay using the airborne magnetometer, ship magnetometers and seismic refraction surveys. These data induced the oil companies to begin detailed exploration in the offshore areas of Canada.

The Instrument Development Section produced the first operational airborne proton precession magnetometer, the first aeromagnetic vertical gradiometer and the first airborne gamma ray spectrometer, the technologies of which were all transferred to commercial companies.

In 1963, he was the first to propose the theory of the magnetic imprinting of the ocean floor as it relates to the theory of ocean floor spreading proposed by the late Professor Hess of Princeton, the periodically-reversing magnetic field of the earth and to continental drifts. This theory, which is taught as the Morley-Vine-Matthews Hypothesis, yielded quantitative evidence that made possible the present-day accepted theory of Plate Tectonics.

Between 1962 and 1970, he and Lee Godby of the National Research Council promoted the establishment of the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing and he became its founding Director-General in 1971, serving in this capacity until 1980. His last two years in the Canadian Public Service were spent with the Canadian High Commission in London, England as Canadian Science Counselor. In 1982, he established a consulting company in remote sensing and geophysical exploration in Toronto.

In 1985, he consulted for the York University's Faculty of Science to promote a University/Industry Institute for Space Research and in 1986, became the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Space and Terrestrial Science, one of seven "Centres of Excellence" established by the Ontario Government for conducting pre-commercial research. This is a consortium of the universities of York, Toronto, Waterloo, Guelph, Humber College and fifty-one private Ontario companies engaged in space research. In 1990, he returned to his consulting practice, working in the area of digital photogrammetry and image analysis.

He is the author of 65 scientific and technical papers on mineral exploration and remote sensing.

In April, 1999, Dr. Morley was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. - Ed.

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Last modified: October 18, 2008