Explore the Deep Sea
Tools & Techniques
Remote, dangerous working environments
How do you map the extent of a volcano one and a half miles below the ocean surface, when your ship is tossing in 20-foot waves? How do you collect rock or water samples thousands of feet underwater, under pressures that are like being stood on by an elephant wearing high heeled shoes? How do you take photographs of the seafloor where no light penetrates, and where chemicals in the seawater are highly corrosive? Deep-sea observations and experiments require sophisticated equipment, carried by specially designed ships.
Many specialized tools
Researchers use a wide variety of equipment to help them collect and analyze information. For instance:
- Sonar produces contour maps of the sea floor and information about the sorts of rocks there
- Submersible vehicles, both manned and unmanned, deploy equipment at great depths, to collect samples and to take photographs.
- Some equipment is towed behind the ship. For instance, the towed camera TowCam takes photographs of the seafloor, while the MOCNESS can be used to sample plankton in the water column. The CTD rosette is an important tool for finding plumes from seafloor vents, as it is towed in a yo-yo fashion (or, in expedition jargon, a tow-yo).