Touring the Ocean Bottom
The ocean — it is the most prominent feature on Earth, and of immeasurable importance to life on the planet. But what would it look like if all of the water was drained out of it? Mountains and valleys that dwarf Everest; shifting plates and undersea volcanoes; seams, ripples, and plains. Though ships have mapped only a small portion of the ocean floor, satellites are used to generate incredibly details maps of the bottom of the ocean. By sensing the minute gravitational changes that pull, push, and bulge the ocean surface, the bottom’s shape can be inferred from space. These bathymetric maps reveal the incredibly dynamic terrain of the ocean. Where available, ship-based measurements are included to provide even higher detail.
This visualization tours the ocean floor from the gentle continental slopes to the deepest trenches using data analyzed and archived by NOAA. Does it look familiar? It is actually the same data that Google has incorporated into Google Earth and Ocean.
National Geographic has a much longer video which animates the draining of the oceans to reveal the bathymetry.