Utilizing a combination of two already working satellites and other tools, scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego produced new maps twice as clear as the last maps made over 20 years ago.
Geophysics professor David Sandwell led the team in this groundbreaking work by teaming up the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 and NASA and French space agency’s Jason-1 satellites. The findings of the study were published in Science Magazine.
The images revealed thousands of mountains, active and dormant volcanoes, and an amazing 500 mile long ridge in the southern Atlantic Ocean and a huge ridge in the Gulf of Mexico. These kinds of discoveries means the the science books are going to have to be rewritten and we now have a newer look at how our planet formed and what to expect in the future regarding the geophysical events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The fine tuned satellites got down to as little as 10 centimeters on the ocean’s surface. The math involved was explained by Professor Sandwell by stating that a 1.2 mile high volcano produces a tiny amplitude bump on the surface of the ocean of around 10 centimeters over 12.5 miles. They used these figures to measure what was on the bottom. In retrospect this imaging isn’t the same as using a high resolution camera to get all the little details but that is something that has to be done. Reason being is that critics, professional and the public bite at the fact that we know more about the surface of the Moon or Mars than what’s in our oceans and it is true. For example Sandwell points out that we have 100 to 10,000 times better resolution of Mars than we have of our own oceans.
It’s about interest and funding regarding mapping in high detail what’s at the bottom of our oceans. One would think such a project would be of high priority by governments as there’s no telling how much in oil or precious metals and gems are there. Since the oceans are close to 2/3 the surface of the planet, what we’ve found on land should theoretically should be 1/3 of the treasures waiting for discovery in the oceans.