Bruce C. Heezen

Bruce Charles Heezen (/ˈhzən/; April 11, 1924 – June 21, 1977) was an American geologist.[1] He worked with oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp at Columbia University to map the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the 1950s.

Bruce Charles Heezen
Marie Tharp and Bruce Heezen
Born(1924-04-11)April 11, 1924
DiedJune 21, 1977(1977-06-21) (aged 53)
ResidenceUnited States
NationalityUnited States
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Iowa
Columbia University
Known forSeafloor topography
AwardsCullum Geographical Medal (1973)
Scientific career
FieldsGeology, Oceanography
InstitutionsLamont-Doherty Earth Observatory


Heezen was born in Vinton, Iowa. An only child, he moved at age six with his parents to Muscatine, Iowa, where he graduated from high school in 1942. He received his B.A. from the University of Iowa in 1947. He received his M.A. in 1952 and a Ph.D in 1957 from Columbia University.

Heezen collaborated extensively with cartographer Marie Tharp. He interpreted their joint work on the Mid-Atlantic ridge as supporting S. Warren Carey's Expanding Earth Theory, developed in the 1950s,[2] but under Tharp's influence "eventually gave up the idea of an expanding earth for a form of continental drift in the mid-1960s."[3]

Heezen died of a heart attack in 1977 while on a research cruise to study the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near Iceland aboard the NR-1 submarine.[4]

Honors and awards

The Oceanographic Survey Ship USNS Bruce C. Heezen was christened in honor of him in 1999.[7]

Heezen Glacier in Antarctica was named after him in 1977.


  1. "Bruce C. Heezen". Physics Today. 30 (11): 77. November 1977. doi:10.1063/1.3037805. Archived from the original on 2013-09-28.
  2. Oreskes, Naomi, 2003, Plate Tectonics: An Insider's History Of The Modern Theory Of The Earth, Westview Press, p. 23, ISBN 0813341329
  3. Frankel, Henry, The Continental Drift Debate, Ch. 7 in Scientific controversies, p. 226, 1987, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-27560-6
  4. "Marie Tharp Bio". Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 2006-12-12. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  5. "Award recipients". Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  6. "The Cullum Geographical Medal". American Geographical Society. Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  7. "Navy's Newest Ocean Survey Ship Will Offer Public Tours August 3 for Lamont Community August 4 & 5 at Intrepid Pier". The Earth Institute. 2000-07-14. Archived from the original on 2008-10-12. Retrieved 2008-06-02.

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