Water And Oceanography
H.M.S. Challenger

The Significance of the Voyage of the Hms Challenger

H.M.S. Challenger
Kimberly Napier's image for:
"The Significance of the Voyage of the Hms Challenger"
Caption: H.M.S. Challenger
Image by: NOAA Archives

Oceanography is the study of the Earth's oceans and the boundaries. This waterway, which is interconnected cover over 70 percent of the earth's surface. Humans have always had a close tie to the oceans. We use it for food and a way to predict weather and the climate of a place. It is also used for trade by many countries' ships. The ocean tells a lot of the history of the world with its bottom topography, geophysical properties and sediments. New geological thinking has been changed due to recent discoveries in ocean sciences.

The H.M.S. Challenger was the first major scientific expedition in oceanography. It consisted of a global voyage which began at England in 1872. Three years and five months later it returned with data on the physical and chemical characteristics of the sediment and the seawater. It also gave the first complete data on how organic life was distributed along the sea bottom, at all depths.

For this expedition to occur, a small warship was converted into oceanographic ship. It contained laboratories, microscopes, and other equipment. John, Murry, and Charles Wyville Thompson, both naturalists, led the expedition. Before this time, Thompson discovered animal life in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.

Some of Challenger's equipment included samplers for grabbing rocks and mud, and nets to seize ocean life from different levels. There were also winches to raise and lower lines to measure the oceans' depth.

The voyage traveled south of England and progressed to the South Atlantic. It then continues around the Cape of Good Hope to the rough waters of the southern Indian Ocean. Then it went on to the Antarctic Circle, to Australia and New Zealand. The next section of the voyage took in the Hawaiian Islands, to head toward Cape Horn. After going around the cape it explored the Atlantic a bit more.

The Challenger discovered the Marianas Trench in the Pacific, which is one of the deepest part of the ocean at 26,850 feet. It also discovered the deepest part of the ocean at 37,800 feet. This has since then been named the Challenger Deep.

Through this expedition the general shape of the ocean was determined, including the basin, and rising places, like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Currents and temperatures throughout the oceans were also determined, thanks to Challenger and its scientists.

Through the expedition of Challenger, other countries became interested in launching their own explorations of the ocean, either by studying one section at a time, or by exploring several areas to make a comparative study.

More about this author: Kimberly Napier

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