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The Floor of the Ocean Comes into Better Focus

Undersea mountains near the Hawaiian Islands, from the Marine Geoscience Data System. Images of the mountains and nearby seafloor are derived from sonar readings taken along the paths sailed by research ships. (Click on this and the other images for higher resolution.)

(First published on Jan. 7, 2016, on State of the Planet.)

The bottom of the ocean just keeps getting better. Or at least more interesting to look at.

In an ongoing project, mappers at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have been gathering data from hundreds of research cruises and turning it all into accessible maps of the ocean floor with resolutions down to 25 meters.

You can see some of the results here, at a mapping site that allows scientists—and you—to zero in on a particular location, zoom in and download topographical maps of the ocean floor. The Lamont data has also contributed to the latest version of Google ocean map, which now offers its own more closely resolved view of the ocean floor globally. (You can take a quick tour of the updated Google map here.)

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