13 July 2010

Bigger and Better in Underwater Indonesia...

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration is undertaking a joint survey with the Indonesian government of the ocean floor of the coast of Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. The purpose is to map the ocean floor and perhaps to see what else is down in the nether regions of the ocean. This is the first week of that joint venture and they have already discovered an undersea volcano that is some 10,000 feet high. Yes, 10,000 feet which makes it taller than most of Indonesia's above water mountains. Interestingly, this one is not only underwater, but it is also 18,000 feet underwater.

The challenge of mountains, at least for me, is to climb them. So, as interesting as an underwater mountain or volcano is, the question remains what challenge is there that we can come up with that tests one's endurance if you cannot climb it. In any event, at 18,000 feet down I am not sure that there are too many humans that could tolerate the incredible pressures involved. Something to ponder for the future, there is always someone looking to do something a little more extreme than the last person.

The NOAA ship, Okeanos Explorer, is on its maiden voyage. The volcano has been named Kawio Barat.

It is expected that the voyage and the work completed will provide scientists with new insights into ocean life at these great depths and will also shed some light on issues associated with climate change and the like. For Indonesia, an archipelagic state of some 17,000 islands any knowledge associated with ocean ecosystems that contributes to better and more effective management is going to be critical as they move into the future. Furthermore, the impacts of climate change such as changing ocean ecosystems and rising sea levels are going to be acutely felt in countries like Indonesia. Quite simply, this research allows for the Indonesians to be forewarned and forearmed.

The images are superb and can be accessed here.

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