EARTH: Seeing the seafloor in high definition

June 03, 2016

Alexandria, VA - As the U.S. celebrates National Oceans Month in June, scientists who study the seafloor are excited because they believe that humans will end this century with a far better view of our seafloor than at any other time in human history. Geoscientists have been mapping land on Earth, and even other planets in our solar system, in high definition for years, but the picture of the ocean floor has remained blurry for the most part. But with advances in engineering, what lies beneath is starting to come into much better focus.

In the June issue of EARTH Magazine, EARTH's Tim Oleson dives into the past, present and future of seafloor mapping, exploring how scientists are working to increase our understanding of the geology, biology and more beneath the waves. The seafloor has been studied by scientists using echo-sounding technology since the early 20th century; significant advances were made during and after World War II, but these early techniques required a large degree of interpolation and offered only low resolution, limiting the ability of geoscientists to interpret Earth processes.

The development of modern multibeam bathymetry used on oceanographic surveys, satellite technologies, autonomous underwater vehicles and remotely operated vehicles has allowed scientists to study the seafloor at higher resolutions. And the results are helping researchers determine slip rates on submarine faults, gather evidence for explosive volcanism on underwater volcanoes and study sediment movement in submarine canyons. Get the full picture of the seafloor in EARTH Magazine: http://bit.ly/1Y6CEHu.

The June issue of EARTH Magazine brings you exciting stories from around the scientific community. Learn about how icebergs moving about Southern Ocean leave a trail of enhanced phytoplankton activity behind them, and how the 2011 Tohoko Earthquake shook up Japan's iconic Mt. Fuji. Do you know "Where on EARTH" was this month? Try your hand at identifying the mystery location for a chance to win a prize, and travel to Turkey with the latest installment of "Travels in Geology." All this, and more at http://www.earthmagazine.org.
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Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH Magazine online at: http://www.earthmagazine.org/. Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

American Geosciences Institute

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