Taxonomy term

exploration

Unprecedented exploration of undersea volcano yields surprising results

Underwater volcanic eruptions happen every day, but because of the vastness of the ocean and the great depth of water blocking the view, catching an active eruption is a game of chance. In fact, the largest-known underwater eruption of the past century was something of a fluke discovery. In July 2012, an airline passenger spotted a huge pumice raft floating in the South Pacific during a flight to Auckland, New Zealand. Upon landing, she alerted researchers, and scientists confirmed the 400-square-kilometer pumice raft near the Havre Seamount using NASA satellite imagery.

18 Apr 2018

World's longest underwater cave found in Mexico

In January, scientists and underwater explorers working with the Great Maya Aquifer (Gran Acuífero Maya, or GAM) project discovered the world’s longest flooded cave system, which stretches 347 kilometers in Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

17 Apr 2018

Benchmarks: March 29, 1912: Scott's South Pole Journey Ends in Death

The epic tale of the race between Norway and Britain to be the first to reach the South Pole — and its tragic conclusion with the deaths of British team members in February and March 1912 — is well known. But the details of what happened on the ice, of what went wrong for the British expedition, have continued to be discussed and debated since the bodies of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott and his four crewmates were discovered the following summer. Several recent studies on the Antarctic climate and on the questionable behavior of Scott’s second-in-command are casting new light on the outcome of the expedition.

29 Mar 2018

Benchmarks: July 15-24, 1975: Apollo-Soyuz mission launches space collaboration

The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union spurred innovations and historic firsts for humankind from Sputnik to the moon landing. However, much of the drive to break through those technological barriers and explore the vast, starry landscape of space was rooted in a desire to display military dominance in space amid the competition and animosity of the Cold War.

15 Jul 2017

Early Pacific seafarers set sail in El Niño years

Even with modern airplanes and ships, the far-flung islands of Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Micronesia and Fiji are difficult to reach. Thousands of years ago, the seafarers who first settled the islands had a much more arduous journey, sailing thousands of kilometers and navigating by the stars. According to a new study, these intrepid travelers may have gotten a boost from weather associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation patterns, which sweep through the Pacific every three to seven years.

27 Feb 2017

Benchmarks: February 5, 1931 and February 20, 1935: Antarctic firsts for women

We can only guess what Caroline Mikkelsen was thinking on Feb. 20, 1935, as she sipped her coffee, resting on a rocky hillside surrounded by the noise and stink of thousands of Adélie penguins. Minutes before, she had become the first woman to set foot in Antarctica and had helped hoist the Norwegian flag into place atop a rock cairn, claiming Norway’s influence in the land. Was she thrilled? Proud? Did she care about the significance of her presence there? We don’t know — little was recorded about the event; and most of what was recorded was lost for decades, resigning the episode, for a time, to footnote status amid the annals of a continent shrouded in mystery and a culture of polar exploration enraptured by the heroic and masculine deeds of the male explorers who had come before.

05 Feb 2017

A mysterious first

Women sailed around the sub-Antarctic islands well before Caroline Mikkelsen or Ingrid Christensen’s journeys, usually accompanying their sailor husbands. Maori navigators are known to have traveled these waters for centuries. 

05 Feb 2017

Down to Earth With: Underwater cave explorer Jill Heinerth

Jill Heinerth has trekked farther into caves than any woman in history and logged more than 7,000 dives across every continent and up to roughly 140 meters underwater — recreational divers only reach depths up to 40 meters. She has dived inside icebergs in Antarctica, beneath the Sahara Desert, and in the turquoise waters of the Bahamas.

02 Dec 2016

Geologic Column: Proposing a new U.S. Holiday: Explorers' Day

October has two holidays that celebrate two individuals both heralded as the discoverers of the New World: Christopher Columbus and Leif Erikson. Perhaps it’s time for something new.

14 Oct 2016

Benchmarks: June 4, 1783: The era of aviation launches with the first balloon flight

In the small French town of Gonesse in August 1783, a large, spherical and nebulous object painted with red and yellow stripes fell from the sky and began fluttering about on the ground. The town’s peasants, fearful, attacked the object with pitchforks, and then tied it to a horse’s tail to be dragged through the streets.

04 Jun 2016

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