North-Central Section - 50th Annual Meeting - 2016

Paper No. 25-2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


LEWANDOWSKI, Katherine J., Department of Geology-Geography, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920,

Marie Tharp was an exceptional woman, who made significant contributions to geoscience. Born in 1920, Tharp had varied interests and studied literature, petroleum geology, and math, before landing in the career that would make a name for her. In 1948, she was hired by the Lamont Geological Laboratory of Columbia University by Maurice Ewing (Bressan, 2013). Technology developed to help wage war using submarines lead to post-war projects at Lamont, like developing bathymetric maps of the ocean. It was at Lamont that Tharp and Bruce Heezen began their lifelong collaboration. Tharp and all women were not allowed aboard research vessels that collected the bathymetric data in the 1950s (Bressan, 2013). However, she took that data and transformed it into a map that has made its way into many oceanography textbooks. She wasn't always paid for her work and her contributions were often not valued as highly as male scientists' contributions (Bressan, 2013). She was a shy person who did not enjoy the spotlight and was much more comfortable behind the scenes (Jarvis, 2014). In 1997, Tharp was named one of the four greatest cartographers of the 20th century by the Library of Congress (Jarvis, 2014).

I will talk about her contributions and how she paved the way for women geoscientists who came after her.