Oceanic Ridges


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  • 100 BC – Greek geographer Strabo is about the earliest record we have of an effort to measure the depth of a sea – he records the successful sounding (i.e., measuring how deep) of the Sea of Sardinia 1
  • 59 AD – Even as far back as the shipwreck of Paul off the coast of Malta, it can be seen that mariners would try to measure the depth of the sea (see Acts 27: 27 – 44)
  • 1400’s – Prince Henry of Portugal establishes a somewhat informal school for teaching navigation in Portugal; still crude techniques of sounding are still employed 2
  • 1521 – Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan attempted to sound off the Unfortunate Islands and went down as far as 750 fathoms (about 4,500 feet) and records that he still could not reach the bottom
  • 1647 – English mariner Robert Dudley prepares an atlas called the “Dell Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea)”
    • This is first set of ocean charts denoting sea depths 3
  • 1773 – The British Naval ship, HMS Racehorse, under the command of Captain Constantine John Phipps is able to measure the bottom of the Norwegian Sea by lowering a line with a 150-pound weight attached to it
    • The bottom was found to be some 683 fathoms deep 4
  • 1840 – Sir James Clark Ross conducts the first open ocean deep-water sounding in the south Atlantic
    • Using the traditional method of lowering a hemp rope over the side of the ship, the depth measured is 2425 fathoms (14,450 feet) 5
  • 1849 – Sounding work done by the US Coast Survey in support of Gulf Stream investigations result in the discovery of the continental shelf break and the continental slope
    • The desire to lay Trans-Atlantic cabling fuels increased interest in proper sounding techniques 6
  • 1857 – James Alden, commanding officer of the US Coast Survey Steamer Active, discovers a deep submarine valley, or “gulch,” in the center of Monterey Bay
    • Alden had discovered the first known sea-floor canyon, now called Monterey Canyon
    • This canyon extends 95 miles into the Pacific Ocean and reaches a depth of 11,800 feet 7
  • 1872 – Sir William Thomson invents a mechanical sounding machine that uses pianoforte wire
    • This represents a quantum leap in ocean sounding as it is more accurate and faster
    • Over the next several decades, a series of improved mechanical devices are developed 8



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  • 1872 – Evidence for the existence of an Atlantic Ocean deep sea canyon is confirmed in part by research performed by the HMS Challenger 9
  • 1874 – George Belknap, commanding officer of the USS Tuscarora, uses a Thomson sounding machine in support of a telegraph cable to survey across the Pacific Ocean
    • The Juan de Fuca Ridge, various seamounts, and the Aleutian Trench and Japan Trench are all discovered
    • Additionally, the first underwater mountains (or seamounts) are discovered west of Hawaii 10
  • 1875 – The USS Gettysburg, under Captain H.H. Gorringe, discovers an undersea mountain 130 miles west of the coast of Portugal, between the Azores and the Straits of Gibraltar 11
  • 1914 – Researcher Reginald Fessenden develops an underwater signaling device that uses sound to detect objects
    • The US Coast Cutter Miami uses the device to detect icebergs up to 20 km away and to detect the bottom of the sea floor 12
  • 1916 – The British in the throes of WWI, under Robert Boyle pave the way for ultrasound, echo sounding and ultimately sonar 13
  • 1951 – The British ship Challenger II locates what appears to be the sea’s deepest point
    • Nearly seven miles down, it is subsequently named the Challenger Deep
    • Located off the Marianas Islands in the Pacific, the site is known today as the Marianas Trench
    • It is a mile deeper than Mount Everest is high 14
  • 1953 – 1956 – The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University explores the Atlantic using the Vema (a 202 foot long research vessel)
    • The vessel records sophisticated data regarding the ocean floor
    • A team led by Marie Tharp and Bruce Heezen analyze the data and conclude that there is an enormous mountain chain running along the middle of floor of the Atlantic
    • Scientists gave the name “Mid-Atlantic Ridge” to the submarine mountain range 15
  • 1995 – Declassification of Geosat satellite radar altimetry data leads to worldwide mapping of seafloor from space 16


“Then the channels of the sea were seen, the foundations of the world were uncovered, at the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of His nostrils.”

– II Samuel 22: 16

“The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.”

– Jonah 2: 5–6


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1. Research in the last 50 years has determined that every ocean contains parts of the mid-ocean ridge system

  • Although the ridge system runs down the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the ridge is located away from the center of other oceans
  • We now believe this undersea mountain system spans the globe and is some 40,000 mi (64,000 km) in length 17

2. Quite a bit went into making it possible for the mid-ocean ridges and underwater mountains to be discovered

3. Yet, it would appear from the texts that the knowledge of such underwater channels and seamounts was resident within the Scripture all along

  • More evidence for the Supernatural Source of the Bible