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Bruce C. Heezen Papers

Identifier: RG99.0085

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Scope and Contents

The Bruce C. Heezen papers include correspondence, clippings, maps and photographs that document the career of Mr. Heezen as an oceanographer at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, New York. One VHS tape documents the christening ceremony of the USNS Bruce C. Heezen. Correspondence from Marie Tharp, a colleague of Mr. Heezen, includes a list of every research cruise of Mr. Heezen between 1947 and 1977. Maps created by Mr. Heezen are located at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, as well as material documenting his faculty research at Columbia. Marie Tharp donated 40,000 maps to the Library of Congress in 1995.


  • Creation: 1938-2000


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Bruce C. Heezen was born April 11, 1924 in Vinton, Iowa, to Charles C. and Esther (Schirding) Heezen. When he was six years old his family moved to Muscatine, Iowa. Mr. Heezen graduated from Muscatine High School in 1942.

He attended the State University of Iowa and received his B.A. degree in geology in 1948. While attending S.U.I., he was influenced to study oceanography by Professor Maurice Ewing, a lecturer from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Heezen took his M.S. and Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1952 and 1957, where he studied under Mr. Ewing. He was associate professor of geology and an oceanographer at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University from 1949 until his death on June 21, 1977. His discovery of the central rift valley in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge while leading a team of Columbia University researchers advanced the knowledge of plate tectonics.

Dr. Heezen and his colleagues, Marie Tharp and Maurice Ewing, created their first map of the ocean floor in 1957. Their physiographic maps appeared in National Geographic and featured the Indian Ocean (1967), Atlantic Ocean (1968), and the Pacific Ocean (1969). They also mapped the world ocean floor, which was published by the U.S. Navy in 1977. The U.S. Navy named an oceanographic survey ship after Dr. Heezen in 1999.


4.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Professor of geology and noted oceanographer received B.A. degree in geology from the University of Iowa in 1948. Created topographical maps of ocean floors 1957-1977.

Method of Acquisition

These materials were donated to the University Archives by Marilyn Jackson in September 2000. The folder, "Esther (Shirding) Heezen Dauch," was donated as Accession 2010-118 by Helen Kotler. Finding aid created February 2008.

Denise Anderson, February 2008
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242