Arthur A. Meyerhoff Memorial Grant


Art Meyerhoff was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, son of Howard A. Meyerhoff, later a well-known professor of geology. Art grew up in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. At 16 he went to Yale University and in short order he received his B.A. degree there and his M.S. degree and Ph.D. at Stanford University. In 1952 he was ready to tackle the geological world and he did.

He started his career with the Standard Oil Company of California (1952-1965). He did exploration work and mapping in various South and Central American countries. This was followed by work in various capacities, including geophysics, in the United States Gulf Coast region.

From 1965 to 1974 he was Publications Manager of AAPG, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thereafter, he was primarily a geological consultant, doing work for government agencies of many countries, for most major oil companies (including Exxon and Shell), and many smaller companies. His work carried him to the four corners of the globe.

During this time he also taught at Oklahoma State University and the University of Calgary in Canada. Also, he was a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University. He lectured frequently in all parts of the world, sometimes in an honorary capacity. He loved teaching and research.

His opposition to the plate tectonics concept was indefatigable and made him famous. He saw the flaws and contradictions of plate tectonics. There is something exhilarating about a man going against the main stream of scientific thought and not yielding – providing his objections have substance. Art’s do. At first he was involved in often passionate debate. Later, his writings were often left unanswered – as though science is served by silence.

By 1988 Art Meyerhoff, with the help of coworkers, had developed an alternate hypothesis called “surge Tectonics.” They suggest that all major features of the earth, including those beneath the sea, are underlain by more or less fluid igneous rocks, which tend to flow parallel to these features. These channels are inter-connected, forming a worldwide hydraulic network. This hypothesis explains a remarkable number of observed earth phenomena. These ideas were published in 1992 by Texas Tech University Press in the book, New Concepts in Global Tectonics, edited by S. Chatterjee and N. Hotton III.

In 1951 he married Kathryn (Kay) Laskaris. It was a good marriage that resulted in three children, James, Richard, and Donna, all of whom did well. Kay helped Art in many ways, including drafting. Art was devoted to his family, and they to him.

“This is nothing to be sad about,” Art Meyerhoff wrote in late 1994, announcing his having only a few more weeks to live. Thus, in facing death as well as living his life, he displayed courage, the one virtue, as Churchill mentioned, that makes all other virtues possible. He died of lung cancer on September 18, 1994.

Art Meyerhoff was one of perhaps a dozen eminent earth scientists of this century. Whether he was one of those rare great men who turned their science into a new direction remains to be seen. His ideas will long be debated. He was a highly principled person. He was a credit to his science, his family, and his friends.

(Excerpts of this biography are from the memorial by Ted Ranneft published in the AAPG Bulletin.)

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