Ultra Fine-Scale Seafloor Mapping

Overcoming Obstacles | Video Update

Nov. 03 2023

You can’t see anything at the bottom of the ocean without the help of technology. Sailors originally created seafloor maps using weighted ropes, known as lead lines, that they would throw over the side of ships; the rope went slack when it hit bottom. After recording the depth, the sailors would create rough topographic maps for mariners.

During this expedition, Chief Scientist Dr. John Jamieson and an interdisciplinary team will test the capabilities of a sonar system new to scientific seafloor mapping: Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Sonar (InSAS). This technology combines bathymetric data with acoustic imagery and is capable of unmatched resolutions fine enough to depict individual animals dwelling in the depths. In the simplest of terms, they’re creating detailed maps using sound rather than light to reveal more about our Ocean.

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