Merton Davies (1917–2001)
Article first published online: 19 OCT 2006
©2001. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 82, Issue 46, page 551, 13 November 2001
How to Cite
2001), Merton Davies (1917–2001), Eos Trans. AGU, 82(46), 551–551, doi:10.1029/01EO00323., and (
- Issue published online: 19 OCT 2006
- Article first published online: 19 OCT 2006
- Cited By
Merton Davies passed away unexpectedly in April at age 83 due to complications from surgery. He will be remembered for establishing the prime meridian for essentially every solid planet in the solar system with the exception of Earth and Pluto. He was an AGU Fellow, and had been a member since 1970 (Planetary Sciences).
In cartography and geodesy nothing is more fundamental than establishing the fiducial point to which all other measurements are related. For a planet, this is the location of the prime meridian—zero longitude. Upon this foundation is built the interconnected network of distance, angle, and time coordinates that tell one where one is and what time it is. Here on the Earth, contention for “ownership” of the prime meridian was for centuries a scientific, political, and commercial issue of great moment, before Greenwich finally became the choice of the world's maps. To have established the prime meridian for a single planet alone could be regarded as a major career achievement by any scientist—an instructive lens through which to view Davies' accomplishment.