Much of the celebration of World Oceans Day focuses on the ocean’s importance as an ecosystem, especially in relation to climate change. But the bottom of the ocean is still relatively unknown – I’ve been told by marine geologists that we know the topography of Venus better than that of our own planet, because we know so little of the ocean floor. The little that we learned before the late 1960’s transformed the understanding of geology on land, as well – if it weren’t for exploration of the oceans, we wouldn’t know about plate tectonics.
So in honor of World Oceans Day, I give you links to today’s studies of the ocean floor:
The Joides Resolution, the ship that is home to the Deep Sea Drilling Project, has a blog. Right now the JR is in the equatorial Pacific, bringing up cores of mud to understand past climate changes. The blog tells about both the science and about life on a research ship. (A recent post has a picture of a kite flying on board, for instance.)
And on the western side of the Pacific, the Chikyu is drilling in the Nankai Trough, aiming for the source of earthquakes in a subduction zone. Wow. Their page doesn’t have a blog, but the BBC has a series of stories from on board the ship.