National Geographic : 1934 May
THE SOCIETY TAKES PART IN THREE GEOGRAPHIC EXPEDITIONS T HE Board of Trustees of the National Geographic Society has authorized The Society's participation in three important geographic expeditions in addi tion to the stratosphere flight announced in the April issue of The Magazine.* These explorations involve some of the oldest and also some of the most modern vehicles that man has used in his effort to explore his world-a diving sphere to reach abyssal ocean depths; dog teams to map obscure Alaskan areas, and canoes to help solve mysteries of giant volcano craters; airplanes to fly icy Antarctic wastes, and the mammoth balloon which is expected to attain a record altitude for stratosphere study. SEEKING NEW DEEP-SEA CREATURES Because the depths of the ocean offer rich returns in the field of geographic research, the Board has authorized a grant of funds to Dr. William Beebe to enable him to resume deep-sea explorations during the coming summer. The project will be known as the National Geographic Society-William Beebe Expedition. Dr. Beebe plans to descend to unex plored depths inside the heavy steel ball (the bathysphere) in which he previously made the record descent for a living man 2,200 feet. The unique diving ball is famil iar to many members of The Society who saw it on exhibit in the central room of the Hall of Science at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. The cast-steel sphere is four-and-a-half feet in diameter, with a shell one-and-a half inches thick, and weighs two tons. It has windows of fused quartz fashioned to withstand the tons of pressure from sea water. A SPOTLIGHT ON CREATURES OF THE DEEP Through the windows beams of light will penetrate the water, and thus the strange creatures of the ocean depths will be ob served. A steel cable will lower the sphere from a barge at the surface, and rubber enclosed wires will afford telephone com munication and current for electric lights. Dr. Beebe will have a telephone transmitter * See "Your Society Sponsors an Expedition to Explore the Stratosphere," in the April, 1934, issue of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. held by an arm in front of his mouth and will dictate descriptions of what he sees to an assistant on a barge above. During Dr. Beebe's descents in 1930 and 1932 many strange creatures were discov ered. Some had glowing and flashing light organs which help them in their battle for life in the weird blue-black depths.* The explorer expects to find new oceanic citizens this year. With the aid of additional and new apparatus, it is hoped to prolong the dives to four or five hours, so that detailed observations can be made of the wholly un known activities and habits of deep-sea creatures off Bermuda. Dr. Beebe will report the results of his new deep-sea explorations in two articles to appear in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. The Society will also cooperate with Father Bernard R. Hubbard, S. J., in the exploration and mapping of the volcano torn Alaska Peninsula and the adjacent Aleutian Islands during the summer. The best map of the region is 25 years old and many sizable districts have not been mapped. Some of the greatest volcanic eruptions of historic times have occurred in the area during the past 25 years and have materially altered the relief and the drainage. EXPLORING CRATERS FOR VOLCANIC SECRETS The expedition led by Father Hubbard will use an airplane to reconnoiter and make aerial photographs, and will then use pack dogs for work on the ground. Canoes will be taken down into the craters of Katmai and Aniakchak volcanoes, so that soundings and water temperature studies may be made of the lakes that lie in bottoms of the huge pits. Vents in the floors and walls of these and other craters will be observed to collect data bearing upon the cycles of activ ity in this important volcanic region. These studies may make possible the forecasting of eruptions. The expedition's plane will fly over and photograph the famous Valley of Ten Thou sand Smokes, made known by an expedition which the National Geographic Society sent out in 1916 to study the effects of *See, by William Beebe, "A Round Trip to Davy Jones's Locker," in the NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC MAGAZINE for June, 1931; "The Depths of the Sea," January, 1932; and "A Wonderer Under Sea," December, 1932.