Hidden landscapes of the deep sea floor


Advanced scientific imaging has allowed scientists to capture stunning images of patterns and movement etched into the seafloor, writes Sarah Condie.


Scientific imaging captured lava flowing from a recent submarine volcanic eruption, taking the form of a brain in its complexity and shape.
Visual Soundings

Human kind has explored the surface of the moon, documenting craters and studying rock formations. Thanks to NASA’s rovers, we’ve even gone as far as Mars, familiarising ourselves with the appearance of the dusty red planet. But, only five percent of the world’s oceans have been mapped in any detail. There’s a whole world beneath us, supporting human life, that remains a mystery.

In recent years, however, significant inroads have been made to uncover the elusive and gargantuan world lying underneath the waves. New acoustic images released by Visual Soundings have given us a unique insight into deep sea landscapes.

Technological advances in scientific imaging can now use sound and vibration to illuminate the seafloor, revealing stunning patterns and images rarely seen by human kind. Usually studied with a scientific eye, the beauty and wonder of marine landscapes are often overlooked.

Acoustic imaging just 2.5km off the coast of Malta reveals a beautiful pattern of lobes and ripples of sand overlaying maeri with sand and gravel.
Visual Soundings

Co-founder of the initiative, IMAS scientist Dr Vanessa Lucieer, shares that “new techniques such as multibeam echosounders have revolutionized scientists’ knowledge of the appearance, shape and structure of the seabed.

In doing so, they sometimes reveal startlingly beautiful glimpses of the seafloor that look more like works of art than scientific data.”

In partnership with her colleague and fellow marine scientist Dr Margaret Dolan, Dr Lucieer hopes that these images will promote the wonder of the ocean, encouraging people to take responsibility and action in its ever-important conservation.

You can discover more incredible images and find out how they were captured on the Visual Soundings website.


  1. http://visualsoundings.org/
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