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Who was Mary Tharp? Why is Google Doodle celebrating the day: Know Mary Tharp's achievements

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Who was Mary Tharp? Why is Google Doodle celebrating the day: Know Mary Tharp’s achievements

On this day Google dedicates a doodle to Mary Tharp (an American geologist and oceanographic cartographer) who enabled the discoveries and proved the theories of continental drift.

Tharp’s Google Doodle

  • This watercolor-style Google Doodle playfully and interactively tells the story of Tharp’s contributions and struggles along her journey.
  • The audio-visual doodle was accompanied by warm-toned shades of blue and yellow.
  • Narrated by Kaitlin Larsen, Dr. Tiara Moore, and Rebecca Nessel, the animation prompts you to click Next after each part of the story.
  • There are also some activities to do in Doodle to grab your attention.

Introduction to Mary Tharp

Mary Tharp was an American geologist and oceanographer (who studies the oceans). She helped produce an important and useful map of the ocean floor. The map led Tharp to realize that the ocean floor could help prove the scientific theory of continental drift or the idea that the continents were moving.

Early Life Introduction and Education

Let us tell you that Tharp, born on July 30, 1920, was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. Her father was an expert soil surveyor, it is clear that her father used to prepare new maps based on the collected soil data. Tharp often accompanied her father to the field, so she learned mapmaking at an early age.

Her father’s work took the family across the country, and Tharp attended approximately 17 different schools before graduating from high school. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and music from Ohio University. In 1944 she earned a master’s degree in geology from the University of Michigan. After this, Tharp went to Oklahoma and started working in the oil industry. In 1948 she received a master’s degree, this time in mathematics from the University of Tulsa.

Tharp’s early career and achievements

In the late 1940s, Tharp began her career as a research assistant at the Lamont Geological Observatory at Columbia University in New York City. (It is now known as the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory.) She met fellow geologist Bruce Hagen there. The two worked together for the next 30 years. Tharp and Hazen were part of a research project to map the ocean floor.

Other scientists had made maps of the ocean floor, but Tharp and Hazen used better technology to see more detail. Women were not allowed on research boats at the time, so Heizen went underwater and collected data using sonar (a device that detects what is underwater). The data was then passed on to Tharp.

Using only pens and rulers, she used the data to figure out what was on the ocean floor. Her first map of the North Atlantic Ocean was completed in 1957. Scientists were expecting that the ocean floor would be a mostly flat, featureless plain. Tharp’s map shows that the ocean floor is made up of valleys, gorges, and mountains. Tharp and Hazen continued to publish maps of different areas of the ocean floor until 1977 when they published the first map of the entire ocean floor.

As Tharp worked to map the Atlantic Ocean in the early 1950s, the data revealed a 10,000-mile-(16,000-kilometer-) long ridge (or mountain range) and what looked like a rift valley. did. Tharp thought it looked like a valley where magma would come up from inside the Earth, push the sides of the ridge apart, and form a new crust. This was evidence that the sea floor was spreading and supported the theory of continental drift.

 Many scientists at the time thought the idea that continents could move through the ocean floor was ridiculous. When Tharp pointed out the Rift Valley to Heijen, she said it was just “girl talk”. After several months Hazen agreed with her, but only after discovering earthquake activity along the ridge. The scientific community was slow to accept what Tharp and Hazen had found. Once this was accepted, the discovery was essential for developing the new theory of plate tectonics.

Ryan, who helped Tharp complete the world map after Heijden’s sudden death in 1977, considered Tharp to be underappreciated and underappreciated. He describes her as a fiery redhead with a wide smile. He says she was talented but acted as if she was a “fool”. This, he said, was how she—one of history’s most influential cartographers—needed to present herself so that she could navigate social minefields.

 Women were not equally welcome in the scientific research community in the fifties and sixties—a fact Ryan attributed to Tharp “affecting the mannerisms of a little girl, talking in a hoarse voice and inspired to.

Lamont interim director and climate scientist Maureen Remo, the first woman to lead the observatory, said she is pleased with the recognition Tharp is now receiving and is confident she will welcome the way Lamont has since evolved.

“Mary Tharp would adore today’s vibrant, diverse Lamont and probably say, ‘It’s about time!’ Remo said.

Despite Tharp’s fickle demeanor, Ryan and the world would learn that Mary Tharp was more powerful than meek – a masterful geologist with a raging intellect.

Marine geologist Vicki Ferini, a senior research scientist at Lamont, sees a connection between Mary Tharp’s revolutionary maps and Lamont’s current leadership in bathymetry mapping. FERNI is part of a global collaborative effort to map the entire ocean floor by the year 2030, called Seabed 2030.

Ferrini said, “It was [Tharp’s] vision, his technical knowledge, and his artistry that really revealed things that hadn’t been done yet and are still relevant, valid, and incredibly accurate today.”

Last year Lamont climate scientist Susanna Camargo was named to a professorship created in Tharp’s honor, becoming the first Mary Tharp Lamont Research Professor.

“The life and scientific pursuits of Mary Tharp are an inspiration to me,” Camargo said. Every time I see her famous map of the ocean floor hanging on the hallway walls of Lamont, I am reminded of her amazing accomplishments, tremendous talent, and how much she had to struggle to become a scientist. It is a pity that it took so long to be properly recognized. I think she would be excited to see all the comments about her on social media these days. She practically has her own fan club among the current generation of scientists, who are taking pictures like her and buying mugs and T-shirts bearing her pictures and her famous map.

As the 100th anniversary of Tharp’s birth approaches on July 30, Lamont and the Earth Institute are celebrating her life and legacy through a series of blog posts, webinars, and more. Follow along here.

Tharp’s later life and honors, death

Tharp worked at Columbia University until her retirement in 1982. In 1997, the Library of Congress named her one of the four top cartographers (map makers) of the 20th century. She was awarded the first Lamont-Doherty Heritage Prize in 2001 for her contributions to oceanography. Tharp died on August 23, 2006.

Publication of Tharp’s works

In 2019, Columbia University created the Mary Tharp Lamont Research Professorship. Several children’s books about Tharp have been published in the years following her death: Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Mary Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor (2016) by Robert Burley, The Ocean Speaks: How Mary Tharp Mapped the Ocean’s Largest Ocean Floor (2016) Secrets Revealed (2020) by Jess Keating and Mary Ocean: Mary Tharp Maps the Mountains Under the Sea (2020), is a graphic novel by Josie James.

Tharp’s discoveries and contributions

  • The Google Doodle creatively explains that Hazen provided the ocean-depth data he collected in the Atlantic Ocean and Tharp used them to create the map.
  • She did it through new research from echo sounders. She was eventually able to discover the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
  • In 1957, Tharp and Hazen co-published the first map of sea level in the North Atlantic to prove that plate tectonics and continental drift were no longer just theories, but that the sea floor was definitely spreading.
  • National Geographic published the first world map of the entire ocean floor by Tharp and Hazen, titled “The World Ocean Floor”. Twenty years later
  • The doodle also noted Tharp’s donation of her entire map collection to the Library of Congress in 1995.

  • In 2001, she was awarded her first annual Lamont-Doherty Heritage Award by the same observatory where she began her career. 



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