Comprehensive Map of the World Ocean Floor | National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Comprehensive Map of the World Ocean Floor

1977: Comprehensive Map of the World Ocean Floor

In 1977, oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp and geophysicist Dr. Bruce Heezen stunned the scientific community by publishing the first comprehensive map of the topography of the ocean floor. Tharp and Heezen drew the details by hand from thousands of ocean bottom soundings.


While working on the map, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, Tharp discovered a rift valley at the peak of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – a stretch of mountains running north-to-south through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Notably, the striking similarities between the shape of the ridge and the shape of the coastlines on both sides of the ocean contributed to a greater acceptance of the theory of continental drift.

Download