Hess, Harry Hammond, 1906–69, American geologist and oceanographer, b. New York City, B.S., Yale, 1931, Ph.D., Princeton, 1932. He taught at Rutgers (1932–33) and was a research associate at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C. (1933–34), before joining the faculty of Princeton in 1934. During World War II, Hess joined the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of rear admiral. While commander of the U.S.S. Cape Johnson, an attack transport ship equipped with sonar, he mapped large segments of the ocean floor across the North Pacific. The mapping led him to develop of the theory of seafloor spreading, which occurs as the earth's crust moves away from volcanic midocean ridges to the flat seabed or abyssal plain. This theory was an important contribution to the development of the theory of plate tectonics. Hess wrote The History of Ocean Basins (1962) and many scientific papers.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Geology and Oceanography: Biographies