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Seafloor Mapping

October 8, 2014

Space-based measurements of the ocean’s surface are revealing the topography of the seafloor miles below.



Undersea and unexplored. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It’s not easy to hide a volcano. But the ocean has been hiding about twenty-thousand of them, according to Geophysicist David Sandwell at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In the journal  , he and his colleagues unveiled new maps of the seafloor created with satellite radar data of bumps on the ocean’s surface.

DAVID SANDWELL (Scripps Institution of Oceanography):

When you have a sea mount on the bottom, it has an extra gravitational attraction causing the water to pile up over that sea mount. So by mapping out the ocean’s surface topography with these radars, you can indirectly get a map of the bottom of the ocean.


That map is revealing the eighty percent of the ocean floor virtually unseen up to now, showing thousands of new volcanoes, mountains and valleys. The information will help scientists understand dynamics of the earth’s crust and deep ocean currents. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.