Who is Mary Tharp? Google celebrates the creator of the “World Map of the Seabed”


Google celebrates the life and career of American geologist Marie Tharp on Monday, November 21, with a fun take on her iconic logo.

The world’s favorite search engine has a dedicated team of illustrators, or “doodlers,” who create Google Doodles to celebrate important people and important historical dates.

Today’s doodle features live sketched video to tell Marie Tharp’s story, with voiceover performed by Caitlyn Larsen, Rebecca Nesel and Dr. Tiara Moore.

Marie Tharp pictured with her signature work, along with an inset image of the Google search page with the Google Doodle. It celebrates the life and work of Tharp.
columbia.edu//Google

Who was Mary Tharp?

Marie Tharp was a geologist and oceanographic cartographer who created the first scientific map of the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

Famous for making waves in the traditionally male fields of marine science and geology, she was born in 1920 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Tharp attended the University of Michigan and earned a master’s degree in petroleum geology – the application of geology to oil and gas exploration and production.

In 1948, she became the first woman to work at the Lamont Geological Observatory in Palisades, New York.

There she worked with geologist Bruce Heezen, who was busy collecting ocean depth data in the Atlantic Ocean. With much of the Earth already mapped, the ocean remained a mystery and Tharp turned his attention to it.

Using sonar technology, she was the first person to discover the Mid-Atlantic Ridge on the ocean floor, part of the longest mountain range in the world.

She believed that the Rift Valley was formed by the separation of the surface from the ocean, supporting the idea of ​​continental drift. But when Tharp presented these findings to Heezen, he called his work “girl talk.”

But when later research revealed the location of the earthquake epicenters, Heezen couldn’t ignore the obvious: the epicenters aligned with the Tharp profile of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Published works

It was only then that Tharp’s hypothesis of plate tectonics and continental drift was accepted by Heezen, and the pair published the first physiographic map of the North Atlantic in 1957.

The work was published in 1977 by National Geographic under the title The bottom of the world ocean and Tharp would later donate the entire map collection to the Library of Congress in 1995.

In 2001, the same observatory where she began her career awarded her the first annual Lamont-Doherty Heritage Award for her pioneering work in oceanography.

Tharp died in August 2006 at the age of 86, but her legacy of skillful mapping and progress in a male-dominated industry lives on.

Rebecca Nesel, a geologist and earth science communicator who worked on the Doodle, told Google: “Marie’s story inspires me because she was a woman in earth science at a very rare and faced many challenges because of this, such as not being allowed on research vessels or having his work rejected by his own colleagues.

“Even so, she remained confident in her work and her abilities, and did not let these challenges dull her creativity and passion for her work. Marie’s story inspires me to continue sharing my own ideas with the world, even when it’s scary,” she added. said.


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