In 1872 HMS Challenger set sail from Portsmouth, England, to map and sample the ocean floor. This marked the birth of modern oceanography. By retracing Challenger s extraordinary voyage, we view our underwater landscape anew focusing on what 21st century science is now able to add to this incredible story.
The oceans make up more than two thirds of the Earth s surface. But they are as mysterious for what they conceal beneath their surfaces as they are familiar for their ubiquity. Deep below the susurrus swell of waves lies an alien world that we have only begun to explore. The quest to know more about this secret domain began in earnest in the late 1800s. In 1859, Charles Darwin s book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection set the scientific world abuzz with its radical theory of evolution, and sparked a feverish desire to know more about the workings of nature. Scientists became increasingly convinced that the ocean floor could provide proof or refutation of Darwin s theory of natural selection. They believed that the ocean floor was a haven for life that had long been extinct on land and that obscure fossil evidence culled from the depths could provide us with information on species that no longer existed topside. So an expedition was specifically designed and undertaken to investigate the natural history and geology of the ocean floor. With its emphasis on locating and retrieving fossil records that would test the new theory of evolution, Challenger s voyage was nothing less than a mission to choose between God and science.
Sailing three and half years and 69,000 nautical miles through burning tropical heat waves and stupefyingly cold Antarctic seas, and suffering further privations of hunger, storms, and sometimes crushing boredom between data-collecting surveys, Challenger dredged up thousands of samples from the sea floor and mapped enormous areas of undersea terrain. The final result was nothing short of a roaring success. So extensive were their findings that it was to take the scientists 19 years to completely examine and report on all their data. The final report, published in 1895, ran to fifty volumes. Most startling of all was the revelation that the ocean was not a silent landscape that serenely reflected Earth s past it was a gloriously vibrant ecosystem teeming with a variety and multitude of life on a scale we could scarcely imagine from our landlocked perspective.
Relying on the official documentation, logs, and journals of the ship s company, The Silent Landscape recounts the tale of an extraordinary voyage brought to life by 21st-century science. From the endangered coral reefs of the Caribbean to the trackless depths beneath the western Pacific, The Silent Landscape takes us on an epic journey across time.
Table of Contents
The National Academies Press (NAP) has partnered with Copyright Clearance Center's Rightslink service to offer you a variety of options for reusing NAP content. Through Rightslink, you may request permission to reprint NAP content in another publication, course pack, secure website, or other media. Rightslink allows you to instantly obtain permission, pay related fees, and print a license directly from the NAP website. The complete terms and conditions of your reuse license can be found in the license agreement that will be made available to you during the online order process. To request permission through Rightslink you are required to create an account by filling out a simple online form. The following list describes license reuses offered by the National Academies Press (NAP) through Rightslink:
Click here to obtain permission for the above reuses. If you have questions or comments concerning the Rightslink service, please contact:
Rightslink Customer Care
Tel (toll free): 877/622-5543
To request permission to distribute a PDF, please contact our Customer Service Department at 800-624-6242 for pricing.
To request permission to translate a book published by the National Academies Press or its imprint, the Joseph Henry Press, please click here to view more information.