Google celebrates, through a doodle, the life of Marie Tharp, an American geologist and oceanographic cartographer who helped prove theories of continental drift.
tharp co-published the world’s first map of the ocean floor and on this day, but in 1998, the Library of Congress named her one of the best cartographers of the 20th century.
The doodle presents an interactive exploration of the life of tharp. His story is told by Caitlyn Larsen, Rebecca Nesel and Dr. Tiara Moore, three remarkable women who are currently keeping Tharp’s legacy alive by advancing the traditionally male-dominated geology and ocean science spaces.
Marie Tharp attended the University of Michigan for his master’s degree in petroleum geology; this was particularly impressive given that few women worked in science during this period. She moved to New York City in 1948 and became the first woman to work at the Lamont Geological Observatory, where she met geologist Bruce Heezen.
Heezen collected ocean depth data in the Atlantic Ocean, which tharp used to create maps of the mysterious ocean floor. New findings from echosounders (sonars used to find water depth) helped her discover the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. She brought these findings to Heezen, who infamously dismissed this as “girl talk.”
However, when they compared these V-shaped cracks with maps of earthquake epicenters, Heezen couldn’t ignore the facts. Plate tectonics and continental drift were no longer just theories: the seafloor was undoubtedly spreading. In 1957, Tharp and Heezen jointly published the first map of the ocean floor in the North Atlantic. Twenty years later, National Geographic published the world’s first map of the entire ocean floor written by tharp and Heezen, entitled “The Bottom of the World Ocean.”
tharp she donated her entire map collection to the Library of Congress in 1995. In celebrating the centennial of its Geography and Maps Division, the Library of Congress named her one of the greatest cartographers of the 20th century. In 2001, the same observatory where she began her career awarded her its first annual Lamont-Doherty Heritage Award.