The Seafloor

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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...

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The ocean, which we often break into five large ocean basins, covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface and holds over 1.3 billion cubic km of water. This massive space also holds over 99 percent of the area that can be inhabited...
These star-shaped grains of sand, collected from southern Japan, look like...
If you want to explore the depths of the ocean, you may want to go to the...

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Scientists from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) collect sediments drilled from Earth’s crust. This marine...
Climb aboard the scientific ocean drilling vessel Chikyu for a tour of this state-of-the-art research ship.
Microscopic, single-celled organisms called foraminifera have a fossil record that extends from today to more than 500 million years ago. Although each foram is just a single cell, they build complex...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ,...
Using maps and graphics, Smithsonian geologist Dr. Liz Cottrell provides an overview of the major earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011—one of the largest ever recorded globally...
The High Coast in Sweden and the Kvarken Archipelago in Finland were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2000. The High Coast and the 5,600 islands of the archipelago have been shaped by the...
A large white coral (Corallium sp.) grows on the Balanus Seamount, part of the New England Seamount chain. Hanging on to the coral are stalkless crinoids and orange brittlestars (Opiacantha sp.) To...
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...
Imagine: You’re in a small submersible, and you gently settle on the soft muddy bottom at a depth of 12,000 feet. It’s absolutely dark. What will you see when the exterior lights are turned on? Will...
An underwater archaeological stratigraphy reveals the different levels of soil in Hare Harbor, Quebec. The stratigraphy – a process archeologists use to help date materials by identifying soil layers...
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 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...
It isn’t everyday that a magnitude 5.8 earthquake strikes the East Coast of the United States . But on August 23, 2011, people from Georgia to New England felt the rumble and shaking of an earthquake...
Geophysicist Jian Lin of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and chief U.S. scientist aboard the Chinese oceanographic ship DaYang Yihao studied the earthquake site that triggered 2004’s Indian...
Alvin, a human occupied vehicle (HOV), returns to the ship after a deep ocean dive to a seamount .
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