We've been studying the stars for millenia. The ocean that covers seventy percent of the planet, though, remains a largely unmapped final frontier.
Although it's said that a student of Aristotle used messages in bottles to demonstrate the flow of water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea, oceanography as a serious science is really only a few hundred years old. And the cost and difficulty of studying the deep ocean has limited progress until very recently. Mid-ocean ridges - giant undersea mountain ranges where seafloor spreading creates the majority of the earth's crust - were only discovered some sixty years ago. But a vast body of knowledge about terrestrial geology has given marine geologists a head start, and technological advances are propelling exploration and discovery at a rapid pace.
Now, a new book tells the story of modern deep ocean exploration, in a way that everyone from veteran ocean scientists to the most uninitiated readers can enjoy. Filled with high-resolution photographs and graphics, Discovering the Deep: A Photographic Atlas of the Seafloor and Ocean Crust, carries the information of a textbook in the gorgeous guise of a coffee-table book. The five authors, with their breadth of expertise, have boiled down four decades of exploration and science, highlighting exciting discoveries, as well as major questions that still remain.
"Anybody in the world can walk outdoors at night and see the stars, but most people don't get access to the ocean," says author Deborah Kelley, a professor in the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington. "This book has tried to take them to the sea floor, and see the stars of the sea floor - those unique places."