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Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 25 Issue 03

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Volume 25, No. 3
Pages 136 - 139

Seeing the Seafloor: Discoveries of the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer Multibeam Systems

Frank O. Nitsche Julia S. Wellner Philip Bart Suzanne O’Hara Kathleen Gavahan
Article Abstract

The detailed seafloor topography around Antarctica was virtually unknown until RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer and other ships started to collect multibeam swath measurements in the 1990s. These new, high-resolution bathymetric data allowed the creation of topographic maps of the Antarctic continental shelf and rise with unprecedented detail. The multibeam data revealed glacial morphological features that allowed reconstruction of paleo-ice flow and maximum ice extent of the formerly glaciated continental margin. Furthermore, these data provided the basis for new insights into the continent’s tectonic evolution and defined the nature of marine biological habitats in polar regions.


Nitsche, F.O., J.S. Wellner, P. Bart, S. O’Hara, and K. Gavahan. 2012. Seeing the seafloor: Discoveries of the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer multibeam systems. Oceanography 25(3):136–139,


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