Victor Veskovo loves extremism. A retired American investor and retired US Navy officer has climbed the highest mountains of all continents, has gone to the North and South Poles on his own, and he’s also interested in the deep seas. With a depths submarine measuring about five meters in length, the “limit factor” has reached the deepest parts of all oceans. The Five Depths Journey (FDE) had been on the road for ten months and also led it to the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, at a depth of about 10,924 meters.
Veskovo and his team completed the diving in Summer 2019. But since deep-sea adventures were not only intended to entertain the wealthy expedition leader, but also to encourage science, a specialized publication was prepared. This is a few days ago im “Journal of Earth Science Data” Published.
550,000 sq km mapped with high precision
“FDE’s contribution to ocean mapping is unique in a certain way, both through its focus on extreme water depths and through its continuous ten-month measurement campaign,” the Associate Experts report. Fiskovo is not on the authors list. For the financially strong adventurer, this reluctance is notable.
During the expeditions, a total of 550,000 square kilometers of seabed was mapped with high precision. This is an area roughly the size of one and a half times the size of Germany. According to the team, more than 60 percent of these areas have never been screened.
“We still have a huge deficit in accurate measurement of the depths of the sea,” says Matthias Jonas, Secretary-General of the Monaco-based International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), SPIEGEL. “Any survey that is able to erase” white spots “in the dark depths is very welcome.”
Card patched for ocean floor
On Earth, we’ve not been satisfied with such blank spots on maps for many decades – but that is still the norm in the oceans. If you look at the maps of the sea floor, you will notice that the sea has been well explored off many coasts in many countries. This also relates to the fact that states can use measurement data to apply it to the United Nations to allow them to use resources previously in international marine areas exclusively.
This results in a patchwork map of the ocean floor: the island nation of Japan stands out here, but also the sea regions in the Arctic off Alaska, the eastern United States, and parts of the Mediterranean. HD data is available here. In the atlases of the depths of the ocean, it is now clear to identify the area of the sea off Australia, where the crashed Boeing 777 from Flight MH370 was searched – to no avail.
Elsewhere, however, there could still be “hic sunt dracones,” as it was said on some ancient maps, “dragons live here,” because important measurements are missing there far from the individual expedition routes of the ships. About 80 percent of the ocean floor has yet to be mapped.
This is suboptimal for several reasons: for shipping, for example, but also for laying cables under the sea, for researching ocean currents and their impact on climate change, but also for protecting species, a detailed knowledge of the sea floor is important.
Integration into the International Data Set
The new dataset makes little contribution to changing that. The lead author of the publication is Cassandra Bongiovanni, who works for Caladan Oceanic LLC. The company had organized the “Five Deeps” expedition for Vescovo. For publication, measurement data were evaluated from the propeller-shaped echo probe on the associated “pressure drop” vessel. In addition, the data was corrected through observations made, among other things, of the submersible “limiting factor”. It is related to the temperature and salinity of the water.
This results in the following deepest points in the oceans:
The Atlantic: Brownsontief im Puerto-Rico-Graben (8378 ± 5 meters),
Pacific: Challengertief im Marianengraben (10.924 ± 15 m),
Indian OceanStill unnamed in the depth of the Java Trench (7.187 ± 13 m),
Antarctic Ocean: As yet unnamed in the depth of the Southern Sandwich Trench (7432 ± 13 meters),
Arctic OceanMultifunction: (5551 ± 14m).
The team was also able to clarify that some of the previous candidates for a standard position did not deserve this title, such as Dordrecht Deep in the Diamantina Fault Zone in the Indian Ocean (7019 ± 17 meters).
“As we all know mountains and valleys on dry land, we must make equal efforts to the oceans.”
The new data will be integrated into the “Seabed 2030” project, which is joined by the international organization Gebco (General Depth Oceanic Planner) and the Nippon Foundation. In this context, white spots will appear on the ocean floor by the end of the decade To disappear.
Much remains to be done to achieve this. The US ship “Okeanos Explorer” is currently mapping approximately 190,000 square kilometers each year on behalf of the NOAA. The R / V Nautilus, also sent by the US government, covers 135,000 square kilometers, while the R / V Falkor, privately managed by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, has an additional 150,000 km.
“As we all know mountains and valleys on land, we must make equal efforts to the oceans,” says Jonas General Secretary of the International Hydrographic Organization. His organization is the mother of the Gebco Project. Veskovo’s contribution to his visit to the Deepest Five is “certainly of higher symbolic value and warranting public interest – but his measurements in the area bring greater knowledge of oceanography.”
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