American geologist Marie Tharp : In the most recent Google Doodle, the life of American oceanographer and geologist Marie Tharp, who helped to prove the theory of continental drift, is honored. On November 21, 1998, The Library of Congress named her one of the most renowned cartographers of the 20th century.
Mary Tharp was born on July 30, 1920 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Tharp’s father was employed by the US Department of Agriculture and provided her with an initial introduction to mapmaking reminiscent of the drawing. She went to the University of Michigan for her master’s degree in petroleum geology. After 1948, she relocated to New York City and became the first woman employed at the Lamont Geological Observatory, where she came into contact with scientist Bruce Heezen.
“Heezen has collected data on the depth of oceans in the Atlantic Ocean, which Tharp used to draw maps of the mystery ocean floor. Echo sounders have recently revealed new findings that (sonars employed to measure the depth of the water) assisted her in identifying the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. She presented her findings to Heezen, who famously dismissed them as “girl talk,” according to Google on its website dedicated to Tharpe. “However, when they looked at the V-shaped rifts and earthquake epicenter maps, Bruce Heezen could not ignore the evidence.”
The year was 1957 when Tharp and Heezen collaborated on the publication of their first ocean floor map of the North Atlantic. Two decades later, National Geographic published the first world map of the entire ocean floor, penned by Tharp and Heezen and titled “The World Ocean Floor.”
In 1995 Tharp offered her whole collection of maps her entire collection to the Library of Congress. In 2001 Tharp was honored by the Lamont Geological Observatory, where Tharp had begun her career, rewarded Tharp with its first-ever Lamont-Doherty Heritage Award.
About Marie Tharp
In 1948 the year 1948, when Marie Tharp began working at the Lamont Geological Laboratory (now the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University), there was a bare minimum that knew about the layout of the ocean floor; it was believed to be flat and without features.
However, when Tharp and her friend Bruce Heezen published the first map of the Atlantic in 1957, Tharp’s drawings revealed ridges, canyons, and mountains covering the seafloor. As time passed, her maps showed the existence of mid-ocean-ocean ridges. They are a group comprising mountain ranges that span over 40,000 miles across the globe.
It was in 1977 that Tharp and Heezen published the first comprehensive map of the world of the ocean floor. Their work proved the concept of plate tectonics which is the concept that continents shift over time that was a subject of debate until that time. The discovery transformed our understanding of how most of the world operates.
Marie Tharp was a scientist who began their career when women weren’t as likely to become scientists. Due to the gender of her husband, she was not allowed to travel on the ships that gathered the seafloor data she used to create her maps. She embarked on a research trip in the year 1968. Early evidence for seafloor expansion was dismissed in the past in the context of “girl chat.”
In the present, Marie Tharp is recognized as the revolutionary she was. In 1997 she was honored when the Library of Congress named her one of the top four cartographers of the 20th century. She passed away from cancer in 2006, aged 86. Her legacy lives on through the numerous women scientists she inspired.
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