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The Silent Landscape

Chapter 3. The Restless Earth

Gibraltar, Mediterranean Sea, 23 January 1873, 36o09'N, 05o 21'W to Station 19, Western Atlantic, 3 March 1873, 19o30'N, 57o 35'W

Atlantic Transect

HMS Challenger left Gibraltar on January 23, 1873, and finally headed out into the true unknown, the deep Atlantic Ocean...

Attached to the sounding wire were various instruments by which the silent landscape—and its watery atmosphere—could be probed. There were three main types of instrument: thermometers for measuring the water temperature at the seafloor (as well as at various depths in the ocean), specially constructed flasks for taking samples of deep and bottom waters, and a device for retrieving sediment samples from the seafloor itself. All of these instruments were marvels of Victorian ingenuity and the thermometers and water samplers were just as extraordinary as the sampling devices described in Chapter 1. The thermometers were of the maximum and minimum kind originally invented by James Six in the eighteenth century and are still known by that name today. They were used to measure the highest and lowest temperatures encountered in the long drop to the sea bottom...

Now click here to enter Chapter 4. Kingdoms of Mud and Lime...

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Richard Corfield 2003 in association with pedalo.co.uk