Dr. Robert Ballard discusses his recent discovery of the wreck of the RMS Titanic. He also describes his other scientific expeditions including explorations of deep underwater volcanoes.
Dr. Robert Ballard on Discovery of Titanic, Volcanoes
JANE PAULEY, anchor:
It was certainly one of the great finds of the century, but for oceanographer Robert Ballard it was also a ten-year quest finding the sunken luxury liner the Titanic. And four months ago, Dr. Ballard made the initial sighting of the remains of that ship some 400 miles south of Newfoundland. Because the wreck was in such deep water and for so many of those last 73 years it was described as very well preserved. Also intact were the ship’s china, cases of wine, even some elegant luggage. But Dr. Ballard doesn’t stop looking into the secrets of the ocean after such a find as that. He has just returned from an ambitious voyage to find out more about the mysterious ocean floor, but before we get to that the Titanic. As far as your concerned, your professional interest, you find the Titanic that’s the end of the story?
ROBERT BALLARD: Oh, it can never be the end of the story. I would obviously love to go back. Whether I’m able to go back or not is really beyond my control right now. It’s going to be up to the Navy and other sponsoring agencies whether we get back.
PAULEY: Say I wanted to go back could you tell me what the coordinates are for the Titanic? Where is it?
BALLARD: Well, we’ll have to talk about that.
PAULEY: Why, why is that top secret?
BALLARD: Well, I’m concerned about people who have made statements that they want to go out there and salvage it, which is a little ridiculous because the ship is torn in half. If you bring up one half it immediately wants to go to the bottom so, we’re trying to protect it for now until we can get in place – Congress you know has introduced bills to protect it, other countries are introducing bills. We’d like to see some assurance that people can’t go out there and just pillage it and plunder it.
PAULEY: All right, so you’re not going to give me the coordinates. I understand.
BALLARD: At that point I’ll give you the latitude.
PAULEY: Let’s look at what--you’re just back from another exploration using the same robot…
PAULEY: …camera at the bottom of the floor, but not looking for treasure or shipwreck at this point. What are you looking for? Let’s roll the tape.
BALLARD: Well, we’re looking for very fresh volcanoes. Most people don’t realize that the deep sea has the most volcanoes in the world. And here just looking at that you need sunglasses to-- to-- look at the video monitors, as the glass is so fresh. Here we’ve come into a hydrothermal vent from that barren area a second ago, now we come into an area that’s just full of these clams and mussels.
PAULEY: What kind of depth are we looking at?
BALLARD: Well, down in the right hand corner it says in meters, so that’s 2,500 meters so about 8,000 feet. And we’re going over an active area here’s where the guy is driving the ship. Unfortunately you’ll see in a second we crashed into the side of the volcano. The vehicle just bumps into it, it rebounds, and then crashes into it again and we started a major landslide. You can see the television acting up and then right at the last second you’ll see this big landslide going through ripping out our wires and the robot didn’t like that at all.
PAULEY: Well the robot survived?
BALLARD: No, actually the rocks, like the rock I have on the table here, this rock went through the robot and severed one of the veins so to speak and the oil leaked out and the robot died and we had to bring it up.
PAULEY: I’m sorry to hear about that, but this is an exciting find.
BALLARD: Well I rather would have the robot for myself.
PAULEY: This may mean nothing, but I say this isn’t that nice. That glass tells you…
BALLARD: Very fresh I mean that could be yesterday.
PAULEY: So you might have been there just in time for an eruption?
BALLARD: That’s the idea. One of these days we’re going to get one.
PAULEY: All right, well life is never dull…
BALLARD: Never dull.
PAULEY: …at the bottom of the ocean. Well thank you Dr. Ballard.
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