Challenger expedition

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Challenger expedition,

British oceanographic expedition under the direction of the Scottish professor Charles Wyville Thompson and the British naturalist Sir John Murray. Taking place from 1872 to 1876, it opened the era of descriptive oceanographyoceanography,
study of the seas and oceans. The major divisions of oceanography include the geological study of the ocean floor (see plate tectonics) and features; physical oceanography, which is concerned with the physical attributes of the ocean water, such as currents and
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. The team sailed in the converted 18-gun corvette Challenger, the first vessel specifically equipped for general oceanographic research. The expedition cruised almost 69,000 nautical mi (130,000 km) in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Antarctic oceans, gathering data on temperature, currents, water chemistry, marine organisms, and bottom deposits at 362 oceanographic stations scattered over 14 million sq mi (36 million sq km) of ocean floor. Its major contributions, covered in a 50-volume, 29,500-page report that took 23 years to compile, included the first systematic plot of currents and temperatures in the ocean; a map of bottom deposits that has not been changed much by more recent studies; an outline of the main contours of the ocean basins, incorporating the discovery of the mid-Atlantic Ridge and the then record 26,900-ft (8,200-m) Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench; the discovery of 715 new genera and 4,717 new species of ocean life forms; and the discovery of prodigious life forms even at great depths in the ocean.


See H. N. Mosely, A Naturalist on the "Challenger" (1879); Sir C. Wyville Thompson, Voyage of the "Challenger" (2 vol., 1877); E. Linklater, The Voyage of the Challenger (1972).

References in periodicals archive ?
Charles Wyville Thomson, leader of the challenger Expedition in the 1870s believed that life in the deep water was confined primarily to a belt at the surface and one near the seabed, and believed the area in the middle to be almost completely without larger animals.
Challenger expedition of the 1870s, Valentine described how the interior of the Sargasso Sea contained distinct parcels of water with remarkably constant salinity, density, and temperature--roughly 18[degrees]C (64[degrees]F).
Their vehicle, called Snowbird 6, was largely untested before the British Ice Challenger expedition.
James Cook and botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who hired artist Sydney Parkinson to draw their discoveries, including the first sighting of a kangaroo; Matthew Flinders, who charted the coastline of Australia along with botanist Robert Brown and artist Ferdinand Bauer, who used a paint-by-numbers technique to draw his exquisite sketches and color them in later; Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, who independently came up with proof for the theory of natural selection; and the Challenger expedition, which was the first government-funded study of oceanography.
Who would have thought that more than a century after the first major marine expedition -- the Challenger Expedition of 1872-1876 when British scientists took the first samples from the deep-sea -- that marine biologists aboard modern research vessels would still be exploring unknown areas of ocean and discovering new species on such a scale?
The earliest extensive data on deep-sea life was gathered on the British Challenger Expedition (1872-1876).