Northeastern Section - 50th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2015)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


KAY, Robert W.1, KAY, Suzanne Mahlburg1, KAY, Jennifer E.2, KAY, Richard F.3 and BERNER, Elizabeth Kay4, (1)EAS, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-1504, (2)CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder, NY 80309, (3)Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, (4)15 Hickory Hill Road, New Haven, CT 06473,

Fifty years ago (1965), at the dawn of the plate tectonic revolution, the biggest geologic news was coming from the oceanic crust, which had been long neglected in favor of the more accessible continental crust. The geosynclinal paradigm (e.g., Hans Stille, Marshall Kay) no longer ruled; continental drift was no longer problematical. Corollary to embracing the new plate tectonic rules was the realization that continental crust formed at plate margins and serves as a repository of plate tectonic history. Within the decade, continental geology surged (John Dewey and Jack Bird’s classic mountain building paper came out in 1970). For northeastern geology, two integrative conferences stand out, in particular, because they assembled major players of the plate tectonic revolution, but also due to the influential conference volumes that followed. In November 1966, NASA’s Goddard Institute hosted the conference entitled "The History of Earth’s Crust", which was organized by Paul Gast and Robert Jastrow. Rober Phinney edited the ensuing volume. The disciplinary scope was large: magnetics, radiometric dating, rheology etc. Evidence for continental drift from both ocean basins and continents was included, including a paper by John Dewey and Marshall Kay on the alignment of continental tectonic belts in their pre-drift configuration (e.g. Newfoundland-British Isles). At the conference, participants aired arguments for and against continental drift. Nine months later, the"International Conference on Stratigraphy and Structure beaing on the Origin of the North Atlantic Ocean" held in Gander, Newfoundland included both field trips and 65 talks. Organized by Marshall Kay, the conference focused on the oceanic and continental geology on both sides of the Atlantic and mainly featured structural and stratigraphic presentations bearing on continental drift in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is likely neither conference would have occurred a decade earlier! Interestingly, neither conference mentions the word ‘plate tectonics’ nor the expanding Earth hypothesis for creation of sea floor.