The World Ocean Floor map represented the culmination of years of effort on the part of Professor Bruce C. Heezen and his partner, Marie Tharp, of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory (currently Earth Observatory). The foundations of this research were a) the tremendous accretion of bathymetric data collected by various institutions and b)the particular alchemy resulting fom the combined talents of Heezen and Tharp.
Ocean mapping data was primarily derived from seismic reflection data acquired by the profiler systems aboard vessels like R.V. Vema and Conrad. Data reduction technicians organized the information by photographic and, later on, digital means. Researchers were then able to select ship tracks in a given area of interest and begin to develop a picture of the topography of the ocean floor. In the case of an earlier map project, this approach led Tharp to rethink previously
held opinions and to forcefully argue for the the idea of sea-floor spreading. Heady stuff coming from the girl who did the drafting.
Looking back, I'm fascinated at the conceptual differential between the analog and digital approaches. In the past, dozens of eyes spent hundreds of hours looking at raw and reduced data intent on piecing together an accurate picture of the bottom. Paper was literally cut-and-pasted
and pen-and-ink drawings generated. As in the digital realm, a certain amount of interpolation was neccessary to fill in the gaps. Eventually a decision had to be made to put down the pens, cap the glue pots and go to press. All this went by the wayside eventually. Shortly before the WOF map came to fruition, I was aboard the R.V. Conrad as the bugs were shaken out of the new multi-channel seismic system. No more sparker and dirty fingers in the drafting room. GIGO replaced the Leroy template and pen.
As for the oil painting, Swiss artist Heinrich Berann of ski-poster fame did the honors. I don't remember exact dimensions but it appeared to be approximately 2/3 the size of the 48"x 96" map.
A black plate with label completed the package and off it went to the printer in Minneapolis, Minnesota who had a press large enough to print it.
I must add this comment: Heezen and Tharp were very representative examples of the "maverick" personality the times required. Marie once told me that certain big-league scientific personages
believed that "color was wicked". I hope that some of the younger cartographers might visit a Lamont-Doherty Open House if possible (see the website: www.ldeo.columbia.edu). Also, a great read in the field would be "Upheaval from the Abyss" by David M. Lawrence.Thanks for your message!