Taxonomy term

exploration

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

Benchmarks: August 3, 1958: USS Nautilus crosses the North Pole

As the USS Nautilus glided through the black depths of the Arctic Ocean, Cmdr. William Anderson asked the crew for quiet. A tense silence hung over the dull roar of the propellers and the sharp pings of sonar as the submarine closed in on its destination. “Eight … six … four,” Williams counted down over the intercom, accelerating as they got closer, “three … two … one …”
 
03 Aug 2015

Benchmarks: February 17, 1977: Hydrothermal vents are discovered

In early February 1977, as scientists aboard the research vessel (R/V) Knorr made their way across the Pacific waters off the northwest coast of South America, they had reason to suspect their expedition might find the success that had eluded others. Previous missions had identified their destination — a site on the ocean surface about 330 kilometers northeast of the Galápagos Islands, below which two tectonic plates rift apart — as a promising location from which to search for their intended target. Once there, the researchers would deploy a variety of tools, including manned and unmanned submersibles, to the ocean bottom in the hopes of directly spotting hydrothermal vents.

17 Feb 2015

Bare Earth Elements: Search the seafloor firsthand (and live!)

If you’ve ever wanted to take a dive into the ocean depths and explore the seafloor below the waves, but just haven’t had the time (or financing) to build your own deep-sea submersible, here’s another solution. NOAA’s 68-meter Okeanos Explorer — the only federally funded ship dedicated to “solely to exploration” — is currently trolling the Atlantic Ocean on the three-week third leg of a mission dubbed “Our Deepwater Backyard: Exploring Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts 2014,” and it’s offering to take guests along for part of the ride.

24 Sep 2014

R.I.P. Nereus

Nereus, the United States’ only full-ocean-depth submersible, was lost at sea on May 10, 2014. The unmanned and remotely operated vehicle was capable of reaching the hadal zone, the ocean region 6 to 11 kilometers deep, and was designed, built and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. Nereus was at a depth of 9,990 meters in the Kermadec Trench off New Zealand, the fifth-deepest ocean trench in the world, when it lost contact with researchers aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. Debris later surfaced, which was recovered and determined to be the remains of the vessel. The debris indicated a catastrophic implosion, likely of one or more of the vehicle’s ceramic buoyancy spheres.
 

04 Sep 2014

Geologic Column: Lessons from the final frontier

Somewhere, out there, beyond the stars Arcturus and Pollux, the TV signals from the final season of the original “Star Trek” are radiating outward. The series has been a teaching tool for a generation, and the programs offer multiple lessons for earth scientists.

03 Feb 2012

Benchmarks: August 1576: False gold found in Meta Incognita

Three small boats set sail westward from London on June 7, 1576. Their goal: Find a northwest passage across the Arctic to Cathay, or China. A former pirate, Martin Frobisher, captained the 34 men. By July 11 they had reached Greenland. A storm overtook them, sinking one boat and forcing another to return home.
 
08 Aug 2011

Down to Earth With: Deep-Sea submersible Alvin

Every oceanographer knows Alvin. Since 1964, the legendary deep submergence vehicle has carried more than 12,000 scientists and other observers to the bottom of the ocean on more than 4,600 dives. Its exploits are legion: locating and recovering a lost U.S. hydrogen bomb in 780 meters of water off the coast of Spain in 1966, exploring the first-known hydrothermal vents (black smokers off the Galapagos Islands) in 1977 and surveying the wreck of the Titanic in 1986.

04 Jul 2011

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