Marie Tharp

Marie Tharp

Marie Tharp

Birth : (1920-07-30)July 30, 1920 Ypsilanti, Michigan

Death : August 23, 2006(2006-08-23)(aged 86) Nyack, New York

Personal Information

Name Marie Tharp
Birth (1920-07-30)July 30, 1920 Ypsilanti, Michigan
Birth Place Ypsilanti, Michigan
Death (2006-08-23)(aged 86) Nyack, New York
Died At Nyack, New York
Nationality United States
Alma Mater Ohio University University of Michigan University of Tulsa
Fields Geology,Oceanography
Institution Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)
Famous Research Seafloor topography

Word Cloud

Events Occured in Scienctist Life


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 Atlantic Ocean floor.


Marie Tharp was born on July 30, 1920 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, the only child of Bertha Louise Tharp, a German and Latin teacher, and William Edgar Tharp, a soil surveyor for the United States Department of Agriculture.


Due to the nature of William Tharp's work, the family moved constantly until he retired in 1931.


Staying on the farm to help after her mother’s death in 1936, Marie later matriculated in college.


Advised by her father to choose a subject of study that she not only loved, but also would provide her with a career and financial security, Tharp graduated from Ohio University in 1943 with bachelor's degrees in English and music and four minors.


By 1948, Tharp had spent four years in Tulsa and was looking for her next career step.


Although sexism barred her from conducting research at sea in her early career, she was later able to join a 1968 data-collection expedition.


The theory of continental drift Before the early 1950s, scientists knew very little about the structure of the ocean floor.


In 1952, Tharp painstakingly aligned sounding profiles from Atlantis, acquired during 1946 - 1952, and one profile from the Naval ship Stewart acquired during 1921.


Tharp and Heezen published their first physiographic map of the North Atlantic in 1957.


Still, Tharp's name does not appear on any of the major papers on plate tectonics that he and others published between 1959 and 1963.


Subsequently, in collaboration with the Austrian landscape painter Heinrich Berann, Tharp and Heezen realized their map of the entire ocean floor, which was published in 1977 by National Geographic under the title of The World Ocean Floor.


Although later recognized and attributed to for her work today on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, it was Heezen, who at the time in 1956, put out and received credit for the discovery that was made.


After Heezen's death, Tharp continued to serve on the faculty of Columbia University until 1983, after which she operated a map-distribution business in South Nyack during her retirement.


Tharp donated her map collection and notes to the Map and Geography Division of the Library of Congress in 1995.


In 1997, Tharp received double honors from the Library of Congress, which named her one of the four greatest cartographers of the 20th century and included her work in an exhibit in the 100th-anniversary celebration of its Geography and Map Division.


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.


Tharp died of cancer in Nyack, New York on August 23, 2006 at the age of 86.


In 1948, she married David Flanagan and moved with him to New York.


Legacy Tharp was recognized in 1997 by the Library of Congress as one of the four greatest cartographers of the 20th century.


Posthumous recognition Google Earth included the Marie Tharp Historical Map layer in 2009, allowing people to view Tharp's ocean map using the Google Earth interface.


She is the subject of the 2013 biography by Hali Felt entitled Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor, which 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.


In 2015 the International Astronomical Union named the Tharp Moon crater in her honor.


  • 1978 - National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal
  • 1996 - Society of Woman Geographers Outstanding Achievement Award
  • 1999 - Woods Holes Oceanographic Institution’s Mary Sears Woman Pioneer in Oceanography Award
  • 2001 - Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory Heritage Award