Deep-sea soundings



Bathymetric charts for many areas of the ocean are cheap and accurate, and we usually take their availability for granted. In these times of abundant information, it is easy to forget the wonder and excitement of the last century, when mechanical sounding machines revealed for the first time the major features of the ocean depths. Who would not be awed by the graceful sweep of the Blake Plateau or the plunging depths of the Puerto Rico Trench, and who could remain unimpressed by undersea mountain ranges more majestic than any in view? In his 1888 book, entitled Three Cruises of the Blake, Alexander Agassiz has this to say about the spectacular Caribbean bottom topography: “Compared to such panoramas the finest views of the range of the Alps sink into insignificance; it is only when we get a view of portions of the Andes from the sea-coast…that we get anything approximating to it in grandeur.”