Google Doodle celebrates life of American oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp

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Celebrating the life of celebrated American geologist and oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp, Google, on Monday, used nearly 40 musical slides including some animated ones, to feature an interactive exploration of her life. Helping in proving the theories of continental drift, Tharp is credited for producing one of the world’s first comprehensive maps of the ocean floor.

Tharp’s theories of plate tectonics and continental drift were accepted, as her work incorporated a more precise cartographic representation of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Not only this, but also her discovery of the rift valley along its axis also included minute details. On this day in 1998, the Library of Congress named the American geologist as one of the greatest cartographers of the 20th century. And hence, Google is celebrating this great feat.

To celebrate her work, Google, with the help of about 40 amusing slides on its doodle, narrated Tharp’s story. Now, the explanatory narration is done by three notable women—Caitlyn Larsen, Rebecca Nesel, and Dr. Tiara Moore, who are presently living out Tharp’s legacy, as they continue to make strides in the male-dominated field of ocean science and geology spaces.

Tharp accomplished her achievement in partnership with Bruce Heezen, whom she met in 1948, after moving to New York, where she was the first woman to work at the Lamont Geological Observatory. The narration of the doodle begins by saying that while Heezen collected the “ocean-depth data in the Atlantic Ocean,” Tharp used those gathered data to “create maps of the mysterious ocean floor.” Google Doodle page explains, “New findings from echo sounders (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”.”

It further added that after Heezen “compared these V-shaped rifts with earthquake epicenter maps,” the facts couldn’t be ignored. It said, “Plate tectonics and continental drift were no longer just theories—the seafloor was undoubtedly spreading.” Therefore it was in 1957 that the geologist duo “Tharp and Heezen co-published the first map of the ocean floor in the North Atlantic.”

Their work achieved global recognition after twenty years when the first world map of the entire ocean floor penned by Tharp and Heezen was published by National Geographic titled “The World Ocean Floor.” Tharp donated her entire map collection to the Library of Congress in 1995. On the 100th anniversary of its Geography and Map Division, it named Tharp one of the most important cartographers of the 20th century.

Apart from featuring her on its doodle, the Google Doodles official Twitter page took to its account to announce the same. While sharing an intriguing GIF of the geologist, it wrote in the caption, “New Google Doodle has been released: ‘Celebrating Marie Tharp’”


Born on 30 July 1920, Tharp retired in 1982 and as per the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, she passed away on 23 August 2006 after battling cancer.

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Google Doodle celebrates life of American oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp
Google Doodle celebrates life of American oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp
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