Tharp and Bruce Heezen
July 30, 1920|
|Died||August 23, 2006
Nyack, New York
|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 the entire ocean floor. Tharp's work revealed the presence of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, causing a paradigm shift in earth science that led to acceptance of the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift.
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.
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. There Tharp met Heezen and in early work together used photographic data to locate downed aircraft from World War II. 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 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, under Tharp's direction Heezen 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.
In 2001, Tharp was awarded the first annual Lamont-Doherty Heritage Award at her home institution for her life's work as a pioneer of oceanography. In 2009, Ocean in Google Earth included the Marie Tharp Historical Map layer, to allow people to view Tharp's map using the Google Earth interface.
In 2013, author Hali Felt published a biography of Marie Tharp entitled "Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor". It was cited by the New York Times for its standing as an "eloquent testament both to Tharp’s importance and to Felt’s powers of imagination."
- Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Bestows Heritage Award on Marie Tharp, Pioneer of Modern Oceanography, Published Jul 10, 2001, Retrieved Oct 12, 2014
- Tharp, M. (2006-12-12). "Marie Tharp biography". Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
- Evans, R. (November 2002). "Plumbing Depths to Reach New Heights". Retrieved 2008-06-02.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fox, Margalit (August 26, 2006). "Marie Tharp, Oceanographic Cartographer, Dies at 86". New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
- Google Earth drops into the oceans, Guardian News, 2 February 2009, Retrieved Oct 12, 2014
- Macmillan Publishers: Hali Felt, Retrieved Oct 12, 2014
- Floating Ideas: ‘Soundings,’ About Marie Tharp, by Hali Felt, New York Times, 25 January 2013, Retrieved Oct 12, 2014
- C250 Celebrates 250 Columbians Ahead of Their Time: Entry on Marie Tharp.
- Woods Hole Oceeanographic Institution. "Marie Tharp Honored at Women Pioneers Seminar."
- The Earth Institute at Columbia University. "Mapping Methodology Examples (North Atlantic)."
- The Earth Institute at Columbia University. "Marie Tharp, Pioneering Mapmaker of the Ocean Floor, Dies." Earth Institute News, August 23, 2006.
- Nelson, Valerie. "Marie Tharp, 86; Pioneering Maps Altered Views on Seafloor Geology." The Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2006.
- Hall, Stephen S. "The Contrary Map Maker" The New York Times Magazine, December 31, 2006.
- Doel, Ronald (1970–80). "Tharp, Marie". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 25. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 29–31. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9.
- Marie Tharp Maps
- Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor by Hali Felt
- Marie Tharp at Columbia University