Did you know? The woman who discovered a chain of mountainous volcanoes that runs through the ocean (that changed everything we know about the ocean, and the continents) was FROM YPSILANTI!!!
Marie Tharp, born in 1920 in Ypsilanti, was a cartographer and geologist who mapped the mid-Atlantic Ridge in the mid 1950s— and changed everything that we know about modern geology. Her 5,000 foot long maps documenting xx,xxx feet of underwater mountain-volcanoes provided the base of our understanding of plate tectonics too.
Tharp’s maps were revolutionary— but in the mid 1950s, a time when female scientists were not taken seriously, her work was initially dismissed as “girl talk” by a scientific establishment that believed that the bottom of the ocean was flat and smooth like the bottom of a swimming pool.
“For five years, Tharp’s colleagues at Columbia University had been crisscrossing the Atlantic, recording its depths. Women weren’t allowed on these research trips—the lab director considered them bad luck at sea—so Tharp wasn’t on board. Instead, she stayed in the lab, meticulously checking and plotting the ships’ raw findings, a mass of data so large it was printed on a 5,000-foot scroll. As she charted the measurements by hand on sheets of white linen, the floor of the ocean slowly took shape before her.”
– Mental Floss, How One Woman’s Discovery Shook the Foundations of Geology
By the end of her life in 2004, Tharp’s maps were on display at the Library of Congress next to Lewis and Clark’s.