CCD digital camera maps the East Pacific Rise



Since the pioneering work of Ewing et al. [1946] and Edgerton [1963] on the development of modern deep-sea camera systems, photographs of the deep seabed have been fundamental to marine geological investigations, portraying deep-sea fauna and permitting study of seafloor morphology at scales ranging from centimeters to meters [e.g., Heezen and Hollister, 1971; Spiess and Tyce, 1973; Grassle et al., 1979; Ballard and Moore, 1977; Lonsdale and Spiess, 1980; Fox et al., 1988]. Deep-sea photography has advanced from single-frame bounce cameras to sophisticated remotely operated vehicles (ROV) containing a complement of optical and acoustical data sensors and altitude-recording devices. Recent advances in camera technology, notably the development of digital camera systems [e.g., Harris et al., 1987], are rapidly increasing the information content of deep-sea photographs. Digital photographs are superior to their analog counterparts because they can be computer enhanced to extract features that are difficult to resolve due to poor lighting, for example. They also lend themselves to quantitative analysis, facilitating numerical comparisons between acoustic backscatter data and optical imagery of various seafloor terrains.