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Wilson, John Tuzo

islands ocean transform mid

(1908–93) Canadian geophysicist: proposed the concept of the transform fault in plate tectonics, and the ‘hot spot’ theory for the creation of mid-ocean islands.

Wilson worked for the Canadian Geological Survey before being appointed professor of geophysics at Toronto in 1946, a post he held until his retirement in 1974. Although initially a staunch opponent of continental drift, Wilson is now known for his notable contributions to plate tectonics. In 1963 he provided some of the earliest support for the sea-floor spreading hypothesis of by pointing out that the age of islands on either side of mid-ocean ridges increases with their distance from the ridge. He subsequently suggested that there exist ‘hot spots’ in the mantle where plumes of mantle material rise due to convection currents, and that as the lithospheric plates pass over them volcanic islands are formed. His other important contribution has been the concept of the transform fault, introduced in 1965, which occurs where continental plates slide past one another rather than one sinking beneath the other in a subduction zone. Mid-ocean ridges often consist of a series of offsets connected by transform faults.

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over 4 years ago

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