PICTURES: "Drained" Oceans Reveal Epic Landscapes

PICTURES: Epic Ocean ''Landscapes,'' Minus the Water
    1 of 3   Next >>
August 7, 2009--The seas off the Bahamas can seem like a swimming pool, but strip away the ocean (illustration at top), and the edges of the islands' shallow Great Bahama Bank--where the light blue begins to turn dark in satellite images of the Caribbean--are revealed to be steep cliffs rising some 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) above a vast plain.

By comparison, Yosemite National Park's nearly 5,000-foot-tall (1,520-meter) Half Dome (bottom) is a molehill.

For much of the seafloor, accurate computer images like the one at top are only now becoming possible.

Unmanned subs, mapping software, and other technology are finally improving to the point where we can map the oceans to the same level of detail as Mars, some 35 million miles away, according to a new National Geographic Channel documentary, Drain the Ocean, airing Sunday, August 9, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. (The National Geographic Channel is part owned by the National Geographic Society, which owns National Geographic News.)

Also see: Drain the Ocean interactive map >>

--Mark Anderson
—Illustration and photograph courtesy Burning Gold Productions via National Geographic Chanel
 
NEWS FEEDS    After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS




 

50 Drives of a Lifetime

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.