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Academic & Professional Books  Earth System Sciences  Hydrosphere  Oceanography

Mysteries of the Deep How Seafloor Drilling Expeditions Revolutionized Our Understanding of Earth History

By: James Lawrence Powell(Author)
276 pages, 2 plates with 2 colour maps and 1 colour illustration; 41 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Publisher: MIT Press
Mysteries of the Deep
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  • Mysteries of the Deep ISBN: 9780262048927 Hardback Feb 2024 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £30.00
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Under the radar – or, rather, sonar – of most people and many scientists, for the last six decades ships have plied the world's oceans, mining the seafloor for its secrets – and quietly resolving confounding geological mysteries. Continental drift and plate tectonics. The origin of the Hawai'ian Islands. The erstwhile disappearance of the Mediterranean. The mystery of the ice ages. All are part of the story told by deep-sea drilling – and chapters in the history that unfolds in Mysteries of the Deep. In a series of vignettes ranging from the voyage of HMS Challenger in the 1870s to the adventures of research ship Chikyū in the 2020s, James Powell recounts the surprises the seafloor has yielded to the probing of scientists.

With a global, sometimes even extraterrestrial scope and a scientific reach that extends to every corner of geology and astrobiology, Powell's work recounts how cores extracted from the ocean floor have:
- produced insights into microbial life on Mars and the end of dinosaurs' tenure on Earth
- demonstrated that astronomical cycles control many geological events, and even human evolution
- used a past episode of global warming to reveal the peril of high temperatures today
- shown that global warming could melt enough Antarctic ice to drown the seacoasts

The mysteries uncovered by deep-sea drilling, and covered by Powell in this eye-opening book, are many and various, often surprising and sometimes alarming – consequential not just for the science of the seafloor, but for how we learn about our planet's past and what we can do about its future.

Customer Reviews


James Powell is a retired geologist and university administrator. He is the author of several books, including The Inquisition of Climate Science and The 2084 Report: An Oral History of the Great Warming.

By: James Lawrence Powell(Author)
276 pages, 2 plates with 2 colour maps and 1 colour illustration; 41 b/w photos and b/w illustrations
Publisher: MIT Press
Media reviews

"Skillfully describes the development of one of the greatest scientific revolutions of all time: continental drift through plate tectonics. An exciting and stimulating read about Earth history in deep time as revealed by ocean exploration."
– James Kennett, University of California Santa Barbara; author of Marine Geology

"Mysteries of the Deep is a totally engaging and scientifically accurate story of the knowledge gained in the last 150 years about the geologic history of Earth's oceans. The "protagonist" in this epic is the Ocean Drilling Program and its successors, still considered the most successful international scientific collaboration ever mounted and a model for international cooperation for the benefit of all nations."
– Marcia K. McNutt, President, National Academy of Sciences

"A must-read for anyone interested in the triumphs and setbacks that led to the one of the greatest scientific discoveries and answer ancient questions about how our world is shaped. Along the way, we are reminded that when we decide to look with curious, critical, and capable eyes, we can discover the true elegance of nature."
– Brent Minchew, Associate Professor of Geophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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