Researcher Profile

Jackson School of Geosciences

Arthur E Maxwell

Arthur E Maxwell
Professor Emeritus, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences

Dr. Maxwell came to The University of Texas as Director of the Institute for Geophysics on January 1, 1982. After graduate work at Scripps, Dr. Maxwell spent ten years (1955-1965) with the Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C., where he held the positions of Head Oceanographer and Head of the Geophysics Branch. Subsequently, he joined the staff of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as Senior Scientist and Associate Director. During the next seventeen years, he progressed through the positions of Associate Director, Director of Research, and Provost. January 1, 1982, Dr. Maxwell came to The University of Texas at Austin as the first director of the newly formed Institute for Geophysics and served until he retired in 1994. His efforts have developed the Institute into one of the leading geology and geophysical research institutions in the world.

Art's early scientific work with Dr. Roger Revelle and Sir Edward Bullard produced pioneering results in ocean geothermal measurements. He was co-chief scientist on Leg 3 of the Deep Sea Drilling Project using the drilling vessel Glomar Challenger. That voyage produced some of the strongest evidence available at that time to support the now widely accepted hypothesis of sea floor spreading and plate tectonics. Dr. Maxwell has been active in the development of scientific ocean drilling through participation in Project Mohole, the Deep Sea Drilling Project, the Ocean Margin Drilling Program, and the Ocean Drilling Program. Similarly, he advocated and pressed for early support of submersible research using both Trieste and Alvin. Among his numerous publications, he edited Volume IV, parts 1, 2, and 3 of The Sea.

His participation in state, national, and international activities includes the Massachusetts Governor's Advisory Committee on Science and Technology, the National Sea Grant Review Panel, and the Alaska Governor's Commission for Ocean Advancement through Science and Technology. He has chaired both the U.S. National Committee on Geology and the U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, in addition to serving on the Finance Committee of IUGG. Dr. Maxwell has served on a number of National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council committees. President Nixon appointed him to The National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere from 1972 to 1975, and he has headed the U.S. Delegation to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Dr. Maxwell served on the JOI Board of Governors and was the Chairman of the JOIDES Executive Committee. He was also on the Academic Advisory Panel for a subcommittee of the Technology Transfer Intelligence Committee of the CIA, and on the Outer Continental Shelf/Environmental Studies Program Committee of the National Research Council.

Dr. Maxwell's numerous awards include the Navy's Meritorious Civilian Service and Superior Civilian Service Awards. He also received the Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the Secretary of the Navy for his work in locating the sunken submarine Thresher. He was elected as President of both the American Geophysical Union and the Marine Technology Society. In addition, he received the New Mexico University's Distinguished Alumni Award and the Outstanding Centennial Alumnus Award.

Art Maxwell's retirement represents the passage of an era of true deep sea explorers whose love of the sea took them into oceanography. The group of which he was a leader totally changed the way we look at the world. Art Maxwell occupied key positions at critical times during the "institutionalization" of oceanography in the United States. He has had many great achievements in his distinguished career. His contributions to setting the national agenda while at SIO, ONR, WHOI, NAS/OSB, AMSOC and UTIG are numerous. He set the style of civility and intellectual partnership between grantor and grantee, bureaucrat and scientist, professor and student, researcher and technician and extended these relationships to the international community. His staff, friends and colleagues remember him most for his patience, thoughtfulness, concern and professionalism that have greatly encouraged many, both as scientists and as individuals.

Areas of Expertise