Marie Tharp (1920 - 2006) was an American geologist and oceanographer who played a pioneering role in the field of marine cartography and the study of plate tectonics. Born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, her work was instrumental in revolutionizing our understanding of the Earth's seafloor and the dynamics of the planet's geology.
Tharp is best known for her collaboration with geophysicist Bruce Heezen. Together, they created some of the first comprehensive maps of the ocean floor. Tharp's meticulous analysis of sonar data collected during their oceanographic expeditions allowed her to visualize the undersea features, including mid-ocean ridges and deep-sea trenches. These maps provided crucial evidence for the theory of plate tectonics, which proposed that the Earth's lithosphere is divided into large tectonic plates that move and interact with one another.
"Marie Tharp was a pioneer in the Earth sciences at a time when few women became scientists. Her early evidence of seafloor spreading was infamously dismissed as 'girl talk' . Later, when published in National Geographic, her strikingly beautiful maps of the world’s ocean floors brought the seafloor and the concepts of plate tectonics to the world". - Dr Ralf Gertisser, Keele University