Transcript for America\'s New Frontier, segment 10 of 11


With mapping around the fifty United States now complete, the U. S. G. S. marine geologists will soon extend their GLORIA survey to the remote U. S. Trust Territories in the Pacific. Here the remaining million square nautical miles of U. S. E. E. Z. will be mapped with an upgraded GLORIA system that records ocean depths along with sonar images. This combined with the ongoing ground truthing work will build a clearer understanding of ocean floor geology and the processes shaping the ocean bottom. The complete coverage of the GLORIA imagery removes at least some of the mystery about these very remote stretches of sea floor. GLORIA images from each of the regions surveyed will provide important base maps for both exploration and decisionmaking as questions arise about the protection and use of the ocean and its resources.

It's probably simple to come up with a list of people who might use GLORIA data in the short term, but the nice thing about GLORIA data is it will last forever, and what we think is important now may not be the things that are most important later. It will endure. It is the first look we've got of the sea floor. There'll be people who want to mine minerals. There'll be people who want to study geology and learn about the processes that affect the ocean, be they biologists, oceanographers, or geologists, so there's a whole raft of users out there. There - they may not be well organized yet. They may not be capable of utilizing the resources that are out there in the far reaches of the exclusive economic zone, but the thing that we're seeing is that the interest is growing rapidly, starts right at the shoreline and works its way out, and as the technology becomes more available, deeper water will become more accessible.

The other interesting thing about GLORIA is the time where it's happening - five centuries after we began western civilization, began venturing out onto the oceans in a systematic way - and as such, I think GLORIA represents a return to something that was started five centuries ago. The passage that speaks to me the most was what T. S. Elliot wrote opening the final passage of the Four Quartets, and he wrote, we shall not cease from our exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive back where we started and know the place for the first time. And for me, GLORIA feels like that sort of return, to discover, to rediscover the things we have never stopped to look back on but have been traversing over back and forth for centuries now.