We wanted to highlight a special woman involved in the history of our oceans: Marie Tharp.
Marie was an American Oceanographer and Oceanographic Cartographer (the ones that make the ocean maps) and was the first to map the floor of the ocean! She first did this in the Atlantic Ocean, but because of her talents and insights, this was able to be replicated across the entire ocean floor, as accurately as we possible, with the information we do know about the depths of the ocean. It is still quite a mystery.
Marie supported the theory of “continental drift”. This theory was quite controversial back in the day, and proposed that that the Earth's continents have moved over geologic time relative to each other, thus appearing to have "drifted" across the ocean bed. She supported this theory with her discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. After studying, she created six profiles stretching west-to-east across the North Atlantic, and from these profiles, she was able to examine the underwater depth of the ocean floor in the northern sections of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Marie identified an aligned, v-shaped structure running continuously and believed that it may be a rift valley formed by the oceanic surface being pulled apart.
In fact, another geologist, Mr. Bruce Heezen, dismissed her explanation as “girl talk.”
And to add fuel to the fire, Marie’s name does not appear on any of the major papers on plate tectonics that he and others published between 1959 and 1963.
The entire map of the ocean floor was published in 1977 in National Geographic entitled “The World Ocean Floor.” Later on, this work was attributed back to Marie for her work on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, but at the time Heezen was given all the credit.
So let’s learn her name and share her story - Marie Tharp! SHE was the one to first map the floor of our ocean!