Ocean Exploration Timeline

It's amazing to think that it's only been 60 years or so since we've really started to explore the deep sea environment, and there's still so much that remains unknown...


1858

First transatlantic telegraph cable laid...but it broke a few weeks later!

1872-1876

Challenger Expedition: this was the first systematic worldwide oceanographic survey

1920

Echo sounding first developed (Behn)

1922

Echo sounding used to survey the routes for submarine cables

1934

First bathysphere used

1940s

Use of magnetometers and scanning sonar

1948

The Trieste - a bathyscaph was built

1951

Challenger II discovered the deepest submarine chasm - the Marianas Trench

1952

The research ship Galathea dredged he Challenger Deep and, despite predictions to the contrary, brought invertebrate sea creatures to the surface

1955

Magnetic 'stripes' in the ocean crust detected

1950s

First use of Precise Depth Recorders (PDR's) to measure ocean dpeth to an accuracy of 1% of the water depth

1960

Trieste was used to explore the Marianas Trench down to 10,915m depth

1960s

Deep-towed instrument systems developed

1961

First mining at a depth of 2 miles takes place
Theory of seafloor spreading is proposed

1963

Sonar Array Sounding system used to build a picture of the seabed

1965

First recorded use of underwater robots (although Russian and US military may have used them earlier)

1966

ALVIN is used to track down a lost hydrogen bomb

1968

The drilling ship Glomar Challenger begins to gather ocean floor data as part of the Deep Sea Drilling Project

1960-70s

GLORIA, based at the UK's Institute of Oceanographic Sciences (now part of SOC) provides an opportunity for sidescan surveying of the coean floor

1985

The drilling ship JOIDES Resolution, named after Captain Cook's vessel) starts to take cores from the ocean crust

1990s

TOBI (Towed Ocean Bottom Instrument), developed and based at SOC, allows multiple sensors to be used whilst being towed above the seabed

1990s

Satellites, such as Geosat and ERS-1 spacecraft are used to survey the oceans. Satellite data and echo sounding data are combined to produce detailed bathymetric images

1990s

ARGO project uses 3000 drifter buoys with a satellite link to monitor ocean circulation

2000

AUTOSUB, build at SOC, is an automated underwater vehicle equipped with numerous different sensors

Find out more about ocean exploration:

Ocean exploration: Part 1
Ocean exploration: Part 2
Manned exploration of the deep
The Challenger Expedition
Ocean exploration timeline
Navigation: Dead reckoning
Early navigation
Improved navigation
Modern navigation
Mapping the seafloor
Exploring below the seabed

Home -

About

-

Latest news

-
Cruises
-
Learn
-
Facts
-
Have your say
-
Interactive
-
For teachers
-
Contact us

© NOCS
February 2007