1991 American Navy agrees to share with civilian scientists a fleet of
deep exploratory craft, including robots and submersibles.
Mir submersible investigates the seafloor.
Mir submersibles dive more than two miles down and film
Titianic wreckage for Canadian IMAX movie.
Soviet ship Yuzhmorgeologiya, which once spied on the submarines of the
United States Navy, is hired by American government to do studies of deep ecology.
Soviet Union ceases to exist.
1992 Scientists, after a large seabed survey, conclude that the deep
may hold ten million species of life, far more than are known on land.
A deep-sea anemone crowns a lava pillar.
Ballard lowers Navy submersible Sea Cliff and Navy robot
Scorpio to examine fourteen ships lost during World War Two
at the battle of Guadalcanal.
CIA director Robert Gates tells Russian President Boris Yeltsin that Glomar
Explorer recovered remains of six Soviet sailors,
who were subsequently buried at sea.
American Navy adopts a new strategy in which fighting forces
target shallow waters and regional conflicts, reducing the need for deep
Businessmen hire an American Navy contractor to dive on
Titanic for commercial salvage.
1993 Two American companies unveil laser cameras, formerly secret
Navy tools for seeing long distances in the deep.
Map of the Juan de Fuca Ridge.
Federal scientists listen to Navy deep microphones and hear a
deep volcanic outburst on the Pacific's Juan de Fuca Ridge,
prompting a number of expeditions to study how heat on the
dark seabed can beget a jungle of life.
Japan begins testing Kaiko, the world's deepest-diving robot.
French submersible Nautile dives on Titanic to recover artifacts.
Ballard lowers Navy Jason robot in Celtic Sea to probe the deteriorating
remains of Lusitania, torpedoed by Germany in 1915.
1994 American Navy agrees to share its attack submarines with civilian
scientists for arctic studies.
Navy turns over the Advanced Unmanned Search System, an
early tetherless robot, to private industry.
Shinkai 6500 sets an Atlantic depth record for a piloted vehicle,
studying deep geology.
Octopus clambers across the sea bottom.
Russians in Mir submersibles carry British scientists down to Mid-Atlantic
Ridge to study a huge volcanic mound laced with
Nautile dives on Titanic to recover artifacts.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea goes into force.
1995 Kaiko dives to bottom of Challenger Deep, finding the icy
darkness alive with small animals.
Paul Tidwell arms himself with naval spinoffs and finds in
Atlantic waters more than three miles down the lost Japanese
submarine I-52, which sank in 1944 heavy with tons of gold.
A tubeworm community.
Ballard dives in Navy's NR-1 to map a field of deep Mediterranean wrecks,
some more than 2,000 years old.
Mir submersibles film Titanic for a Hollywood movie.
American Navy releases seafloor gravity data, which civilian
oceanographers turn into the first good public map of the global
Civilians start broadcasting deep sounds across the Pacific and
listening with Navy microphones for changes in travel time,
seeking to measure global warming.
1996 Federal scientists listening to Navy microphones hear fury on
the Gorda Ridge, prompting new studies of seabed volcanism.
Billowing 'smoke' from a deep-sea vent.
The robot Jason, one of the Navy's top deep projects of the 1980s, makes
its debut for a Federal scientific group, its first
expedition probing hot vents on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Navy widens access to its deep microphones, prompting the
development of private acoustic observatories meant to listen for volcanic
eruptions and whale songs.
The advanced robot Tiburon debuts at Packard's institute, ready
to explore down to a depth of four kilometers, or two and a half
Nautile dives on the Titanic to film the shattered hulk and recover
artifacts, including a large section of the liner's hull.
'Deep Flight' on a mission.
Deep Flight makes its debut, taking Hawkes a step closer to flying
into the Challenger Deep, seven miles down.
1997 American experts use the robot Odyssey to search the dark water
off New Zealand for the giant squid, the greatest of the sea's
This chronology is excerpted from: The Universe Below: Discovering the Secrets of the Deep Sea
by William J. Broad, illustrated by Dimitry Schidlovsky
Published by Simon & Schuster, 1997