Data feast

Published: Thursday 30 November 1995

THE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the us is elated at unveiling the first scientifically satisfying map of the ocean floor. The map unveils 71 per cent of the earth that lies beneath the oceans, but was until now not as well mapped as the surface of Venus. Among those rushing for a glimpse of the map are fishermen who want to zero in on undersea mountains that produce upwellings of deep, nutrient-rich water that feed swarms of fish, industry too hopes to get a bird's-eye view of rocks that Overlay oil fields and the kinds of volcanic eruptions that form undersea deposits of copper, iron, silver and gold. "It's like being able to drain the oceans and look at the earth from space," says David T Sandwell, a geophysicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, who helped make the map. "We're having a data feast. It really is a time for celebration," he adds.

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