An underwater ‘Grand Canyon’ has been discovered and mapped in series of spectacular images captured by created by a Royal Navy survey vessel.
HMS Enterprise discovered the 250 meter-deep canyon in the Red Sea during a nine-month mission to improve their understanding of the waters east of Suez.
The 3D images were later created after the ship departed from the Egyptian port of Safaga and were made using the Devonport-based survey ship’s multibeam echo sounder, The Independent reports.
Commander Derek Rae, commanding officer of HMS Enterprise, said:
“These features could be the result of ancient rivers scouring through the rock strata before the Red Sea flooded millennia ago.”
“Some may be far younger and still in the process of being created by underwater currents driven by the winds and tidal streams as they flow through this area of the Red Sea, carving their way through the soft sediment and being diverted by harder bed rock. Or there is always the possibility that they are a combination of the two.”
“It is, however, almost certain to say that this is the closest that humans will ever get to gaze upon these truly impressive sights hundreds of meters beneath the surface.”
According to Mail Online, the multibeam echo sounder — which is fitted to Enterprise’s hull — produces the images from the echoes that come back from the sound pulses it sends out.
This technique is a highly precise way to measure the sea bed to determine if the water depth is safe for navigation.
HMS Enterprise will now remain in the Middle East until the summer. It will continue to update some of the 3,300-plus Admiralty Charts used by many of the world’s seafarers.
Subterranean wonders of the planet, “Submarine Canyons” are — as the name suggests — steep-sided valleys cut into the sea floor.
The deepest underwater canyon in the world is in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of Spain, which drops to nearly 5,000 miles beneath the surface. Other notable canyons are sited in the Hudson and Amazon rivers.
The main cause of canyon erosion is thought to be turbidity currents — dense, sediment-laden currents that flow downwards when a mass of sediment is rapidly deposited on the upper slope — and fails to hold.
Such phenomena is often caused by earthquakes or underwater landslides.