Ballard, Robert Duane

Ballard, Robert Duane

(băl`ərd), 1942–, American marine geologist, b. Wichita, Kans.; Ph.D. Univ. of Rhode Island, 1974. From 1969 to 1997 he was associated with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, where he became the head of the Deep Submergence Laboratory. He combined interests in plate tectonics and engineering to participate in the development of the manned deep-sea submersible Alvin and to develop remotely navigated underwater survey equipment that made possible detailed mapping of the midocean ridge. Some of this equipment was used in his searches for the wrecks of the TitanicTitanic
, British liner that sank on the night of Apr. 14–15, 1912, less than three hours after crashing into an iceberg in the N Atlantic S of Newfoundland. More than 1,500 lives were lost.
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, the LusitaniaLusitania,
liner under British registration, sunk off the Irish coast by a German submarine on May 7, 1915. In the sinking, 1,198 persons lost their lives, 128 of whom were U.S. citizens.
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, the German battleship Bismarck, and John F. KennedyKennedy, John Fitzgerald,
1917–63, 35th President of the United States (1961–63), b. Brookline, Mass.; son of Joseph P. Kennedy. Early Life

While an undergraduate at Harvard (1936–40) he served briefly in London as secretary to his father, who was
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's PT 109. During exploration of the Galapagos rift, he was among the first to observe the ecosystems surrounding hydrothermal ventshydrothermal vent,
crack along a rift or ridge in the deep ocean floor that spews out water heated to high temperatures by the magma under the earth's crust. Some vents are in areas of seafloor spreading, and in some locations water temperatures above 350°C; (660°F;) have
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. Well known for his emphasis on educating the public, he has written Exploring Our Living Planet (1983) and other books and founded the Jason Project, which allows young people to participate in expeditions via live hook-ups with their schools. In 2002 he joined the faculty of the Univ. of Rhode Island as a professor of oceanography; he heads the Center for Ocean Exploration and Institute for Archaeological Oceanography there. Ballard is also associated with the Mystic (Conn.) Marine Aquarium, where he heads (1994–) the Institute for Exploration.

Bibliography

See his The Eternal Darkness: A Personal History of Deep-Sea Exploration (2000; with W. Hively).