Understanding the Earth: the contribution of Marie Tharp

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Higgs, Bettie Matheson
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Marie Tharp worked all her life as a geoscientist, and for the most part for the recognition and benefit of her male colleagues. She was employed to assist researchers at Columbia University. Her male colleagues readily used her ingenuity and insights without giving her recognition. Marie tolerated this at first but eventually began to ask for recognition for her own work. Her most influential work was the production of physiographical maps of the ocean floor. During this work, in the 1950s, Marie was the first scientist to realize that there was a large rift running the length of the Atlantic Ocean, and she eventually demonstrated that this rift linked to the East African Rift Valley. Her male colleagues suppressed this discovery for reasons of their own, and 4 years later presented it as their own research. The work caused some key figures in the history of plate tectonics to change the direction of their research. Marie suffered in her career due to rivalries between her male colleagues. It was not until the 1990s that Marie began to be recognized nationally and internationally, and receive awards for her work.
Marie Tharp , Women in science , Geoscientists , Women in scientific careers , Female geologists
Higgs, B. M. (2020) 'Understanding the Earth: the contribution of Marie Tharp'. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 506 (1), pp. 231-243. doi: 10.1144/SP506-2019-248
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by The Geological Society of London. All rights reserved.