In order to salvage German scientific research and the specialized knowledge and experience gained from it, the German Scientific Research Aid Council was formed in 1920. The Council's task was to put public and private funds to their best possible use to this end. In 1924, Vienna-born oceanography professor Alfred Merz asserted that the ocean offered an open door of opportunity for exploration and suggested a well-planned voyage invited solutions to important problems of the deep. The president of the Council recognized an extraordinary opportunity and things rapidly moved forward.
The survey vessel Meteor (with a specially trained crew) was chosen as the expedition ship, and the expanse of the South Atlantic Ocean was her target in April 1925. A strenuous around the clock program of scientific measurements was undertaken: water temperatures, depths, atmospheric observations and collecting water samples and marine life.
Crisscrossed from the northern tropics to Antarctica, the South Atlantic was treated to the Meteor's early sonar, which conducted thousands of soundings to complete the first detailed survey of an entire ocean. A notable discovery during this survey was the extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge around the Cape of Good Hope toward the Indian Ocean.
When the Meteor returned to Germany in May 1927, she had spent 512 at sea, sailed over 67,500 nautical miles, established 310 observation points, made 67,000 depth soundings and released over 800 observation balloons. It was a victory in peace for science and for Germany.
Glenn M. Stein, FRGS
Into the Unknown: The Story of Exploration (The National Geographic Society, Washington, DC; 1987)
The Meteor Expedition: Scientific Results of the German Atlantic Expedition, 1925-1927, by F. Spiess (English Translation Edited by William J. Emery) (Amerind Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi; 1985)
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Saturday, 09 June 2007 04:33
A Victory in Peace: The German Atlantic Expedition 1925-27Written by Glenn Stein
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