The Marine Science Consortium

Ben Oostdam

page 1

After we left South Africa in late 1965, we first took several months vacation in Holland and Switzerland. I also worked on some publications of the results of our surveys for marine diamonds, and applied for several new jobs. These applications were for academic and research positions in marine geology and geophysics. In March 1966 I was offered a temporary Job by Texas Instruments, to work as oceanographer / engineer on a survey for the U S Navy between Gibraltar and the Azores.We first flew to the Canary Islands, where we found an apartment for Mercia and little Ben. I boarded one of the two research vessels and enjoyed a series of three week cruises doing geophysical work, mainly on sound velocity , with a predominantly Texan crew. One of the most fascinating aspects of the investigation was the marked extent of intrusion into the Atlantic of the denser mid-depth water passing out of the Mediterranean over the sill at Gibraltar: we found clear evidence of its presence as far as the Azores in the Mid-Atlantic!
I spent some interesting leave periods in the Azores and in Portugal, and ended my assignment in Bergen, Norway. Two responses to applications for more permanent employment looked promising. The first was to set up a branch-office in Australia for Huntec, a geophysical exploration company , the other to organize an oceanography program for the state colleges in Pennsylvania. Huntec sent a well-known geophysics professor to interview me in Amsterdam, as result of which we were invited for an interview in Toronto. The job sounded very exciting and we had a marvelous couple of days in Toronto, but we did not want to decide before having visited Millersville State College in Pennsylvania. Dr. Alex Henderson, the Director of Science, had gone through a lot of effort writing and cabling to me while I was out at sea, and he presented the vacancy as a great challenge.
Thus we rented a car and entered the USA on July 4th, which also happened to be Mercia's birthday... It was a pleasant drive to Lancaster, although the final part through the city was a bit of a let- down. Nevertheless, after bypassing the college and taking a swim in a tributary of the Susquehanna River, we were quite impressed with the scenery. The people at the College showed a remarkable degree of enthusiasm for oceanography. Alex had recently convened a meeting of several sister colleges with the intent to set up a cooperative program. He kindly offered me to teach his advanced biology topics summer course which started the very next Monday, so I accepted Millersville's offer and regretfully declined Huntec's.
An important reason in our decision was that Mercia - who was expecting our second child - felt we should settle down a bit. Considering that this was her first time out of South Africa and that we had stayed in some 25 foreign countries in this first year, it did make sense. Huntec 's President, Dr. Norman Patterson, was most understanding and cooperative and later invited me to present a paper on diamond exploration at the Centennial Geophysical Conference in Toronto, which was a splendid opportunity which I appreciated sincerely.

first MS
early January, 1987
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