Marie Tharp

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Marie Tharp
Tharp & Heezen.jpg
Tharp and Bruce Heezen
Born (1920-07-30)July 30, 1920
Ypsilanti, Michigan
Died August 23, 2006(2006-08-23) (aged 86)
Nyack, New York
Residence United States
Citizenship United States
Nationality United States
Fields Geology, Oceanography
Institutions Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Alma mater Ohio University
University of Michigan
University of Tulsa
Known for Seafloor topography

Marie Tharp (July 30, 1920 - August 23, 2006) was an American geologist and oceanographic cartographer who, in partnership with Bruce Heezen, created the first scientific map of Earth's entire ocean floor. Tharp's work revealed the presence of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and revolutionized scientific understanding of continental drift.

Life and career[edit]

Tharp was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Her father, William, made soil classification maps for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Her mother, Bertha, was an instructor in German and Latin.

Tharp graduated from Ohio University in 1943 with bachelor's degrees in English and music and four minors. She later received a master's degree in geology from the University of Michigan before earning a degree in mathematics from the University of Tulsa while working as a geologist for the Stanolind Oil company.[1]

Moving to New York in 1948, Tharp was employed by Maurice Ewing at the Lamont Geological Laboratory (now the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) at Columbia University, initially as a general drafter.[1] There Tharp met Heezen and in early work together used photographic data to locate downed aircraft from World War II.[2] Later, they began working together to map the topography of the ocean floor. For the first 18 years of their collaboration, Heezen collected data aboard the Observatory's ship, the Vema, and Tharp drew the maps from that data, since women at that time still were excluded from working aboard ship. Restricted from conducting research at sea early in her career due to her gender, she later was able to join a 1965 data-collection expedition. Tharp independently used data collected from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's research ship Atlantis, and seismographic data from undersea earthquakes. Her work with Heezen represented the first systematic attempt to map the entire ocean floor.

Tharp and Heezen published their first physiographic map of the North Atlantic in 1957. Collaborating with the Austrian landscape painter Heinrich Berann, they published their map of the entire ocean floor in 1977 (coincidentally, also the year of Heezen's death). Although for a time he favored the expanding Earth hypothesis,[3][4] under Tharp's direction he turned to the alternative theories of plate tectonics and continental drift.

Tharp continued to serve on the faculty of Columbia University until 1983, after which she operated a map-distribution business in South Nyack, New York during her retirement.

Tharp died of cancer in Nyack, New York on August 23, 2006.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tharp, M. (2006-12-12). "Marie Tharp biography". Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  2. ^ Evans, R. (November 2002). "Plumbing Depths to Reach New Heights". Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  3. ^ Barton, C. (2002). "Marie Tharp, oceanographic cartographer, and her contributions to the revolution in the Earth sciences". Geological Society, London, Special Publications 192 (1): 215–228. doi:10.1144/GSL.SP.2002.192.01.11. 
  4. ^ Doel, R.E.; Levin, T.J. and Marker, M.K. (2006). "Extending modern cartography to the ocean depths: military patronage, Cold War priorities, and the Heezen-Tharp mapping project, 1952-1959". Journal of Historical Geography 32 (3): 605–626. doi:10.1016/j.jhg.2005.10.011. 
  5. ^ Fox, Margalit (August 26, 2006). "Marie Tharp, Oceanographic Cartographer, Dies at 86". New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2012. 

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