Marie Tharp gets a Google Doodle - All about the American Geologist
Who was Marie Tharp?
The most recent Google Doodle honors the life of Marie Tharp, who contributed to establishing ideas of continental drift. Marie Tharp was an American geologist and oceanographer who created maps for the Navy and drew maps of the ocean floor. She was born on July 30, 1920, in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
The interactive doodle on Google's homepage honors the life and work of Marie Tharp today. The story about her life and contribution is being told via the voices of Caitlyn Larsen, Rebecca Nesel, and Dr. Tiara Moore. In order to learn more about Marie Tharp's life and work, users simply have to click on the doodle and then a series of drawings appear.
The doodle implies that Ms. Tharp's very early exposure to mapmaking was facilitated by her father's employment with the United States Department of Agriculture. She earned her master's degree in petroleum geology from the University of Michigan. By 1948, she had relocated to New York City, where she made history by becoming the first female employee at the Lamont Geological Observatory and there she met fellow geologist Bruce Heezen.
Work and Contribution of Marie Tharp
It was Ms. Tharp who first documented the Atlantic Ocean floor scientifically and provided evidence for continental drift. 21st November 1998 marks the day when she was recognized as one of the best cartographers of the 20th century by the Library of Congress. Tharp utilized data collected by Heezen on the depth of the Atlantic Ocean to generate his famously enigmatic maps of the seabed. She was able to locate the Mid-Atlantic Ridge with the use of updated data gleaned from echo sounders (sonars used to determine ocean depth).
Initially, Heezen did not take any of her results seriously, but he notoriously wrote it off as "girl talk." But soon he had to change his thoughts because her results compared these V-shaped rifts with seismic epicenter maps.
First published in 1957, Tharp and Heezen's map of the North Atlantic seabed was an important step in the exploration of this region. Twenty years later, in their article titled "The World Ocean Floor," Tharp and Heezen presented the first global map of the ocean floor.
Tharp gave the Library of Congress her complete collection of maps in 1995 and received the inaugural Lamont-Doherty Heritage Award in 2001 from the Lamont Geological Observatory, where she began her research career. The Library of Congress recognized her as a major figure in 20th-century cartography on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its Geography and Map Division.