The ocean covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Beneath the water lies a seafloor with a landscape as complex as dry land. Rugged submarine canyons, towering underwater mountains, rocky “chimneys” spewing scalding mineral-rich water, an expansive, flat, muddy abyssal plain—the landscape of the deep seafloor is diverse and dynamic. MBARI scientists study the geological processes that shape the ocean floor.

At the core of MBARI’s mission is the collaborative development of cutting-edge technology to access and study the deep ocean. Scientists and engineers work together to design and build innovative tools that give us unprecedented access to the deep seafloor. Our researchers use a variety of technologies—from remotely operated vehicles, autonomous underwater robots, and surface gliders to equipment deployed on the bottom for long-term monitoring—to study the seafloor. A better understanding of seafloor geology helps us understand how human activities impact bottom-dwelling ecosystems and how earthquakes and tsunamis may affect coastal communities. 

These teams and projects are revolutionizing how we observe and understand the ever-changing ocean floor.

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