Mervyn Paterson

From Hartmut Kern (Universität Kiel, Germany)

I came to know Mervyn Paterson personally when he came to Kiel in the early seventies to visit my lab.  His particular interest was the triaxial pressure apparatus, allowing simultaneous measurements of P- and S-wave velocities and volume change of rock samples in three orthogonal directions at PT conditions. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo from this visit. I was impressed by his personality and I remember the fruitful discussions on the physical properties of geomaterials, motivating me to continue my petrophysical research.

Some years later, this personal contact encouraged me to ask Mervyn for comments on the manuscript “Effect of high/low quartz transition on compressional and shear wave velocities in rocks under high pressure” (later published in Phys. Chem. Miner.). The paper has rested for more than a half a year under my desk, because I didn´t dare to submit it. The main reason was that I did not trust in the observed unusual shift of the alpha/beta quartz transition temperature in the polycrystal with increasing pressure compared to the quartz single crystal. Furthermore, I couldn`t believe in the negative Poissions`ratios.   Mervyns answer was: “Publish the paper as it is”.

Maybe my manuscript gave an impetus for parts of the thesis by his PhD student Ide van der Molen. In the Acknowledgements of his thesis Ide van der Molen wrote: “Much of the work described in Part II and Part III has been precipitated by the research of Prof. H. Kern (University of Kiel, W. Germany). Prof. Kern kindly allowed me to refer to an unpublished manuscript on the shift in the alpha-beta transition temperature of quartz in granite as detected by ultrasonic measurements of Vp and Vs.”

A few years later, at an AGU conference, I shared a room with Mervyn in a hotel in San Francisco. Once, on an evening, somebody knocked at the door and Rudy Wenk entered with a bottle of Scotch whisky under his arm. This was a signal for a very nice evening, At midnight, we all were drunken, and Mervin was shaking the empty bottle, always stammering “Scotch malt whisky, 16 years old”.

Hartmut Kern

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