1967 Geologists, after fierce debate, agree that seafloor spreading involves
a dozen or so huge plates that form the Earth's crust and move slowly over time, rearranging the land.
An undescribed vent anemone with three-foot-long tentacles.
1968 Soviet submarine sinks in the deep Pacific, littering seabed with
secret code books and nuclear warheads.
In stealth, Halibut examines the lost Soviet sub.
American Navy sub Scorpion sinks in the Atlantic, killing
99 men and surrendering to the depths two torpedoes tipped with nuclear
1969 Trieste II, a new Navy bathyscaph, probes the Scorpion's
wreckage more than two miles down and recovers the sub's sextant.
1971 Navy launches first of two piloted craft that hitch rides atop
submarines and dive deep for rescues and espionage.
A bloom of tubeworms.
1973 Navy begins to design a type of tetherless robot, eventually
known as the Advanced Unmanned Search System, for wide
hunts of gear lost at depths up to nearly four miles.
1974 Disguised as a seabed miner, American ship Glomar Explorer
lowers a giant claw to grab a Soviet sub lost on the Pacific floor.
United Nations Law of the Sea conference proposes to tax
seabed miners as a way of enriching poor nations.
French-American team dives to Mid-Atlantic Ridge and
unexpectedly finds its rift valley paved with lava.
Mussels and tubeworms share a vent site.
1977 American team dives in Alvin to a volcanic rift in the Pacific and
discovers warm springs teeming with undescribed species of life, an ecosystem
new to science that includes tubeworms, snakelike creatures standing upright
in long tubes.
1979 American team exploring Gulf of California with Alvin finds mineral
chimneys that blow clouds of black smoke and discharge water hot enough to
1980 Scientists propose that the seabed's hot springs are the
birthplace of all life on Earth.
Venting black smoker chimney.
1981 Ronald Reagan becomes President and begins an arms
buildup, including new classes of deep craft and new kinds of deep
1982 Volcanic seamounts in Pacific are found to be covered with rare
metals, including cobalt.
United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty is finished and opened
for ratification, saying deep minerals belong to the world's
1983 Reagan proclaims Exclusive Economic Zone around the United
States, effectively doubling the nation's size and fueling a burst of
exploration in deep waters.
1984 Robert Ballard tows tethered Navy craft Argo over the Thresher,
scanning the lost sub's corroding wreckage with an array of video
American researchers diving off Florida in Alvin discover life
swarming in cold springs, another new kind of deep ecosystem.
Swarming life at a cold seep on the Louisiana Slope.
Mikhail Gorbachev emerges as Soviet leader, starting conciliatory
1985 Ballard lowers Navy craft Argo and discovers, more than two miles down,
the Titanic, broken in two, many of its fixtures
and artifacts scattered on the icy seabed.
Graham Hawkes's Deep Rover submersible reveals a riot of
midwater life in the depths of Monterey Canyon, helping inspire billionaire
David Packard to fund deep explorations.
1986 New Navy robot Jason Junior probes the interior of the
Titanic, and in secret missions explores the twisted wreckage
of two sunken American submarines, Thresher and Scorpion.
The hydrothermal vent known as 'Inferno.'
1987 American firm hires the French Nautile submersible to begin
Titanic's salvage, hauling up thousands of items, including
children's marbles and a lady's wristwatch.
First East-West treaty is signed that reduces nuclear arms.
1988 Treasure hunters searching off South Carolina more than a mile
down find the remains of the Central America, a wooden ship
that sank in 1857, heavy with tons of California gold.
Ballard tows Navy craft Argo over Mediterranean deep and
discovers a graveyard of ancient ships, including a fourth-century Roman
1989 Ballard lowers Argo nearly three miles down in the Atlantic
and finds German battleship Bismarck, a mass of deteriorating guns and
Jason, Ballard's top robot for the Navy, debuts and recovers from
the deep Mediterranean dozens of artifacts from lost Roman ships.
Crabs scavenge on giant tubeworms.
Berlin Wall crumbles.
1990 Navy begins giving civilian researchers wide access to NR-1, a
deep-diving nuclear submarine with lights, windows, and wheels.
Japan finishes Shinkai 6500, the world's deepest-diving piloted
Russians in Mir submersibles probe Monterey Canyon, one of the first in a
wave of post-cold-war dives for foreign customers.