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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. She explains the...
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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Imagine: You’re in a small submersible, and you gently settle on the soft muddy...

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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...
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...
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 ,...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Climb aboard the scientific ocean drilling vessel Chikyu for a tour of this state-of-the-art research ship.
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...
A diversity of deep-sea corals—including primnoid coral ( Narella sp.), black coral ( Trissopathes pseudtristicha ), and feather stars ( Florometra serratissima )—flourish 2,669 m (8,757 ft) deep on...
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...
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...
If you want to explore the depths of the ocean, you may want to go to the deepest part: the Mariana Trench. This trench has a maximum depth of 11 kilometers (around 7 miles) and is almost five times...
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...
Scientists from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) collect sediments drilled from Earth’s crust. This marine research program supported by 24 countries is increasing our understanding of...
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...
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...
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...
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