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WE ARE SO PECULIAR!

WE ARE HE British submarine Talent has recently completed a survey of the Eastern Mediterranean. For two months, we scientists aboard her have been sounding and measuring parts of the ocean with the object of finding out what the Mediterranean looked like millions of years ago when part of it was not an ocean or a sea at all. Talent took us over 6,000 miles, and the submarine’s complement of sixty officers and men gave us splendid co- operation in all the phases of our survey. Many of the men were frankly puzzled by what we were up to, and I agree that measurements with pendulums and crystal clocks seemed far removed from the more warlike pursuits of firing torpedoes. But, despite the fact that we had turned part of their already cramped living quarters into a laboratory, they gave us @ most enthusiastic welcome, and the Royal Navy can claim a big share in the success of this scientific expedition. To find out what the Eastern Mediterranean must have looked like, we took 100 measurements of gravity — or the pull of the earth — while the submarine was submerged. We also made a continuous record of the depth of the water for about 2,000 miles of our total journey. This will give a picture of what the sea-bed of the Eastern Mediterranean looks like today, and should help us in our reconstruction of the past. Was Malta, for instance, linked at one time by a land- ridge with Europe or Africa —- or both? The presence of the remains of European-type elephant and rhinoceros in the Dar Ghalam caves in Malta suggests that the island was joined to Europe but not to Africa. And, on our trip south of Malta, we found supporting evidence, in the shape of a very steep cliff under the sea, that SO PECULIAR! In the CYPRUS REVIEW for June we told you some- thing about the explorations being made off Cyprus by the British submarine Talent. Here one of the scientists who took part, Dr. ROBERT COOPER, of ihe Department of Geo-Physics, Cambridge Univer- sity, describes the survey. it was not joined to Africa. This cliff was more than 2,000 feet high. By contrast with Malta, which is an old island, Pantellaria, lying between Sicily and Tunis, must be looked on as a youngster. it is of fairly recent volcanic origin, and we spent a good deal of time surveying the sea around it to find out what has happened to the earth’s crust as the result of about a thousand million tons of rock being erupted ‘on it at this point. We cannot tell until our measurements have been worked out — and that should take us the better part of a year. We also went up into the Aegean, and here echo-soundings showed up sudden changes of depth of as much as 6,000 feet in a mile or so. If the water in this area could be drained away, we should see an impressive panorama of volcanic cones. The final part of our survey was devoted to exploring the sea round Cyprus. ‘Ihe peculiarity of this island is that no one has yet decided how big it is. This is because the instruments used by surveyors on land are affected by the extra pull of the dense mass of rock in the middle of the island. Our measurements will enable the land- surveyors’ measurements to be corrected. The aims of the expedition have been purely scientific, and it is certainly not my place to say whether it will have any economic application. But it must be remembered that, in other areas, by piecing together the past history of the land, it has been possible to guide detailed research into its geological structure. NNO OSS eee <