From the atlantic to the pacific

Hess had joined the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant to facilitate operations on a navy submarine that he used for gravity studies following his research with Vening-Meinesz. He was in the naval reserves when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Hess reported for active duty the next morning. Because he had submarine experience, he became an antisubmarine warfare officer with responsibility for detecting enemy submarine operations patterns in the North Atlantic. Hess advised the U.S. Navy that German submarines might be using the cloud cover north of the Gulf Stream (a current that runs from the Gulf of Mexico up the U.S. Atlantic coastline) to escape detection during surfacing. This suggestion resulted in the clearing out of submarines in the North Atlantic within two years. Hess arranged a transfer to the decoy vessel USS Big Horn to test the effectiveness of the submarine detection program; he then remained on sea duty for the rest of the war. As commanding officer of the transport vessel USS Cape Johnson, Hess carefully chose his travel routes to Pacific ocean landings on the Marianas, Philippines, and Iwo Jima, continuously performing scientific surveying and profiling of the ocean floor across the North Pacific Ocean.

Hess took advantage of his time in the navy by patterning the travel routes to facilitate his studies on the geology of the ocean floor. He installed a deep-sea echo sounder on his transport ship and used it continuously. This equipment measured the depth of the sea bottom over which the ship traveled by sending a sound signal downward from the ship and measuring the time it took for the signal to bounce back from the ocean floor. Using these data Hess constructed bathymetric maps that showed the contours of the ocean floor across a large area of the Pacific. While collecting bathymetric data, Hess discovered flat-topped underwater volcanoes that he named guyots after Swiss geologist Arnold Guyot, who had founded the department of geology at Princeton University in 1854, and Princeton named the geology building after him. Hess remained in the naval reserves until his death, attaining the rank of rear admiral in 1961.

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The Basic Survival Guide

The Basic Survival Guide

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