The life of American geologist Marie Tharp is honoured through a Google Doodle
The most recent Google Doodle honours American geologist and marine cartographer Marie Tharp, whose work contributed to the validation of continental drift ideas. She was hailed as one of the best cartographers of the 20th century by the Library of Congress on November 21, 1998.
On July 30, 1920, Marie Tharp was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan. According to the doodle, Tharp’s father introduced her to mapmaking when he was still a young child while working for the US Department of Agriculture. She pursued her master’s in petroleum geology at the University of Michigan. She relocated to New York City in 1948 and hired at the Lamont Geological Observatory as the first female employee, where she met geologist Bruce Heezen.
“In the Atlantic Ocean, Heezen collected information on ocean depths that Tharp used to produce maps of the enigmatic ocean floor.” She learned about the Mid-Atlantic Ridge thanks to fresh information from echosounders, a type of sonar used to measure sea depth. According to Google’s Tharpe tribute page, Tharpe presented these findings to Heezen, who infamously dismissed them as “girl talk.” Bruce Heezen, however, was unable to ignore the evidence when the V-shaped rifts were compared to earthquake epicentre maps.
The first map of the ocean floor in the North Atlantic was co-published in 1957 by Tharp and Heezen. Twenty years later, National Geographic released “The World Ocean Floor,” the first map of the whole ocean floor that Tharp and Heezen had created.
Tharp gave the Library of Congress her complete collection of maps in 1995. The Lamont Geological Observatory, where Tharp began her professional career, presented her with the first Lamont-Doherty Heritage Award in 2001.