3 May 2016

Soundings, by Hali Felt

Posted by Callan Bentley

tharpThe Heezen and Tharp (1977) World Ocean Floor Panorama is an amazing map – an ideal amalgam of science and art. It is the result of a collaboration between Bruce Heezen and Marie Tharp, in conjunction with artist Heinrich Berann, made a beautiful map that brought a state-of-the-art-as-of-1978 understanding of the seafloor immediately into the minds of whoever gazed upon the map. It’s a work of art, a paragon of science communication, and a catalyst for understanding and insight.

How did this singular image come about? Who were Heezen and Tharp? To answer those questions, read Soundings, by Hali Felt. It’s a rich book, a combination of biography and paean to Tharp. Mostly presented in the traditional style of a third-person biography, portions of the book also conjure up a documentary film, as Felt recounts and reflects on her journey as Tharp’s biographer. Other portions are imaginative, going to places and emotions that no documentary evidence could access. In total, these styles works very well together, and to tell Tharp’s story. Recommended for all geoscientists everywhere, but particularly for tectonicists and oceanographers.