The Seafloor

The seafloor is vast and diverse—from hard to soft bottom, cracks and crannies and mountainous ranges—and supports an equally diverse community of animals and microbes.

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Smithsonian curator of fossil marine mammals Nick Pyenson and a team of collaborators are heading into Chile's Atacama Desert , shown here. They'll study a rich bonebed of fossil marine vertebrates that lived off...
Using maps and graphics, Smithsonian geologist Dr. Liz Cottrell provides an...
These deep-sea sediment cores were drilled from beneath the seafloor, and hold...
Climb aboard the scientific ocean drilling vessel Chikyu for a tour of this...

LATEST CATCH

These star-shaped grains of sand, collected from southern Japan, look like miniature works of art -- but they were not sculpted by an artist. They are the shells of microscopic organisms called foraminifera , which build...
The ocean, which we often break into five large ocean basins, covers 71...
If you want to explore the depths of the ocean, you may want to go to the...

DIVE DEEPER

Scientists from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) collect sediments drilled from Earth’s crust. This marine...
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) keeps track of earthquake locations and magnitudes, accessible on the USGS website . Modern recording equipment has been in use since about 1900. While this...
A variety of corals colonize the rocky surface of Manning Seamount, part of the New England Seamount Chain located in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This photo was...
These star-shaped grains of sand, collected from southern Japan, look like miniature works of art -- but they were not sculpted by an artist. They are the shells of microscopic organisms called...
You are not alone if you don’t know what forams (short for foraminifera) are, so let’s start with the basics. Simply put, forams are single-celled organisms related to the familiar amoeba that...
Geologist Charles Paull (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) investigates geologic features similar to pingos (Earth covered ice mounds found in the Arctic) on the Arctic Ocean floor where...
Climb aboard the scientific ocean drilling vessel Chikyu for a tour of this state-of-the-art research ship.
On August 23, 2011 a 5.8 earthquake emanated from the little-known Central Virginia Seismic Zone. The epicenter was near Mineral, VA, but the tremor shook homes, schools, and office buildings in...
This 3-D colored map of Chapman’s Reef—a deep-sea coral reef near Florida—was produced in 2005 with multibeam sonar technology from an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Explore more in the...
A dredge from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can be seen removing a sandbar off of Virginia Beach, VA. This type of removal occurs in order to clean up the seafloor or to allow for large ships to...
Thousands of seamounts—most of them undersea volcanoes—tower above the muddy seafloor. They provide something hard to come by in the deep ocean : a solid surface to cling to. This photo gallery shows...
On August 23, 2011 a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck the East Coast of the United States. The earthquake map shown here, generated by the U.S. Geological Survey and regional seismic network operators...
On the deep seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico, ecosystems made up of fish, corals, sea stars, anemones and other invertebrates flourish. Since the sun’s rays don’t reach the deep sea, coral communities...
The Chikyu allows scientists to gather and study data about seafloor sediments as soon as they are collected. After a powerful 9.0 earthquake triggered a devestating tsunami in Japan in March 2011 ,...
Alvin, a human occupied vehicle (HOV), returns to the ship after a deep ocean dive to a seamount .
Discover some amazing corals in this footage that shows and identifies a range of deep-sea coral species from the Juan de Fuca Canyon off the Olympic coast and the Davidson Seamount, an underwater...
There can be catastrophic results when a large amount of oil is spilled into the ocean—as when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. But did you know that...
Thousands of seamounts—most of them undersea volcanoes—tower above the muddy seafloor. They provide something hard to come by in the deep ocean: a solid surface to cling to. Corals, sponges, and...
Until very recently oceanography was a field dominated by men. A seafaring career, oceanography was still influenced by the superstitions of ship life; a woman on board was considered to bring bad...
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