Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science

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A vivid, up-to-date tour of the Earth's last frontier, a remote and mysterious realm that nonetheless lies close to the heart of even the most land-locked reader.
The sea covers seven-tenths of the Earth, but we have mapped only a small percentage of it. The sea contains millions of species of animals and plants, but we have identified only a few thousand of them. The sea controls our planet's climate, but we do not really understand how. The sea is still the frontier, and yet ...

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Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science

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A vivid, up-to-date tour of the Earth's last frontier, a remote and mysterious realm that nonetheless lies close to the heart of even the most land-locked reader.
The sea covers seven-tenths of the Earth, but we have mapped only a small percentage of it. The sea contains millions of species of animals and plants, but we have identified only a few thousand of them. The sea controls our planet's climate, but we do not really understand how. The sea is still the frontier, and yet it seems so familiar that we sometimes forget how little we know about it. Just as we are poised on the verge of exploiting the sea on an unprecedented scale—mining it, fertilizing it, fishing it out—this book reminds us of how much we have yet to learn. More than that, it chronicles the knowledge explosion that has transformed our view of the sea in just the past few decades, and made it a far more interesting and accessible place. From the Big Bang to that far-off future time, two billion years from now, when our planet will be a waterless rock; from the lush crowds of life at seafloor hot springs to the invisible, jewel-like plants that float at the sea surface; from the restless shifting of the tectonic plates to the majestic sweep of the ocean currents, Kunzig's clear and lyrical prose transports us to the ends of the Earth.
Originally published in hardcover as The Restless Sea. "Robert Kunzig is a creator of what oceanographer Harry Hess once referred to as 'geopoetry.' He covers vast tracts of time and space and makes his subjects electrifying."—Richard Ellis, The Times [London] "The Restless Sea immediately surfaces at the top of the list of journalistic treatments of oceanography. . . .The book opened my eyes to numerous wonders."—Richard Strickland, American Scientist "When you head for the coast this summer, leave that trashy beach novel at home. Instead, pack Robert Kunzig's book. Because just beyond your rental cottage lies the restless sea, where three-mile-tall mountain ranges criss-cross the ocean floor, and deep trenches harbor mysterious creatures. . . . The book is easy to read, and will bring you up to date on the startling discoveries oceanographers have made during the past few decades."—Phillip Manning, The News and Observer [Raleigh, North Carolina] ] "Anyone who loves the sea should read this book."—Sebastian Junger

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Editorial Reviews

Kunzig, the European editor of Discover magazine, has written a comprehensive and fascinating book about ocean science that will appeal to true science fans—especially those who are drawn to the mysteries of Earth's final frontier. Kunzig has a gifted storyteller's flair for capturing vivid images in lyric prose ("Imagine you looked out your window one morning and saw jellyfish," he begins). That is a good thing, for he covers a wealth of material that might otherwise overwhelm even dedicated ocean-loving readers. Do you want information about abyssal storms, bristle worms, epibenthic sleds, fracture zones and ocean dispersal of larvae? Would you like to know more about the big names in oceanography and hear some true-life stories about how they go about their work? Would you like to see pictures of five-foot tube worms and the thermohaline circulation of the ocean and an edible bologna sandwich that survived underwater for 10 months in a sunken submersible? That and much more are all within these 345 pages. While his focus is on oceanography, Kunzig makes an eloquent case against the over fishing and release of pollutants that have damaged this vast resource so pervasively. Still, as his awe-inspiring final pages make clear, the ocean will outlast us, though, like us, will eventually die. Anyone who wants to know more about the ocean will enjoy Mapping the Deep. For any budding oceanographers, it is a "must read." KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Norton, 246p, illus, bibliog, index, 21cm, $15.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Gloria Levine; Freelance Education Writer, Potomac, MD, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No.2)
Norton published an earlier edition in 1999 as . Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Simon Garfield
There can be few better introductions to our watery planet...
Financial Times
Jon Turney
Like the oceans themselves, Kunzig's book is large and contains multitudes . . . . Compelling.
The Guardian
Maggie Gee
Robert Kunzig has an epic saga to tell and he does it with flair and an infectious excitement.
Daily Telegraph
Richard Shelton
Hard to put down. . . . holds our interest with a grip that would do credit to Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie.
Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393320633
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 285,299
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Kunzig is European editor of Discover magazine, based in Dijon, France. His writing about the ocean has won the AAAS-Westinghouse Science Journalism Award and the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism.

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Table of Contents


Prologue: The Sea at Dawn

1. Beginnings

2. The Seafloor Moves

3. To Map Is to Know

4. Islands in the Deep

5. Springtime

6. Blue Water

7. Invisible Garden

8. Twilight of the Cod

9. Where the Water Goes

10. Turning Off the Currents

Epilogue: An End

Selected References


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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2000

    Utterly enthralling - you'll stare out to sea and wonder...

    I was totally gripped by Robert Kunzig's acount of the way we have changed our view of the deep ocean. What was once seen as an ancient, flat, unchanging, zone of cold blackness is now known to be one of the youngest, most active parts of the planet, full of new mountain ranges, simmering volcanoes and supporting as great a variety of species as the Amazon rain forest. Discoveries and theories about the ocean are vividly outlined by Kunzig and his portraits of the scientists themselves bring them to life. I loved the photographs in the book and the descriptions of a massive world about which I had known nothing. This book is a fascinating read.

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