Sir Anthony Laughton

Anthony Laughton started his oceanography career at Cambridge University. After the award of his PhD on the compaction of marine sediments, he moved to the Lamont Geological Observatory of Columbia University in New York, before joining the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in 1955.

Sir Anthony Laughton FRS

At NIO, starting with the development of a deep-sea camera and generating contour charts of the ocean floor, he soon built up a marine geology and geophysics group. Expeditions to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on RRS Discovery contributed greatly to the understanding of seafloor spreading and plate tectonics.

Between 1969 and 1977, he led cruises using the sonar system Gloria (Geological Long-Range Inclined Asdic), developed at NIO, to study seafloor features including fractures along the Mid Atlantic Ridge. He initiated the UK’s participation in the Deep Sea Drilling Project and was also committed to the international global ocean charting project Gebco (General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans)

He became Director of the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences (the successor institution to NIO) in 1978. After retiring in 1988, he became President of the Challenger Society for Marine Science (1988-90), and later of the Society for Under Water Technology (1995-97), and served on the Council of the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth. He was a Trustee of the Natural History Museum (1990-95) and was elected President of the Hydrographic Sciety (1997-99).

He received numerous awards, including the Prince Albert I of Monaco Gold Medal for Oceanography (1980), the Royal Geographical Society’s Founders Medal (1987) and the Murchison Medal of the Geological Society of London (1989). Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1980, he served on its Council; (1986-87) He was knighted in 1987 for services to oceanography.

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