Question Sheet: Explorer of the Extreme Deep


Before reading:

  1. What would you expect to see at the bottom of the ocean? 
  2. What kind of vehicle would you use to explore the ocean floor at great depths?

During reading:

  1. How deep is the deepest part of the ocean? 
  2. What’s a hydrothermal vent? 
  3. Name two discoveries that Alvinwas responsible for. 
  4. In what ways will the new deep-sea vehicle be better than Alvin
  5. What skills are needed to be a good submersible pilot?

After reading:

  1. Use the information in the article to draw a picture of Alvin. Label its parts. For additional information, see Hole Oceanographic Institution). 
  2. Alvin‘s successor doesn’t yet have a name. What would you name the new vehicle? Why? 
  3. Compare and contrast deep-sea exploration to space exploration. 
  4. What kind of equipment for research would you want on a trip in Alvin? Come up with three to five things you would need to have with you. Explain why you would need each item. 
  5. Why do you think that engineers can now build a better vehicle for undersea exploration than they could in the 1960s? Come up with examples of technological improvements that have occurred that would benefit this form of exploration. 
  6. What sorts of animals live near hydrothermal vents? What makes them different from most other sea creatures? See of Naval Research). 
  7. Compare what a geologist aboard Alvin might look for to what a marine biologist might try to observe. Come up with a question that each might ask about the ocean depths.


Because the oceans are mostly uninhabited by people, large parts have been declared “international waters.” What does this mean? How far out into the ocean from its shores should a country be able to claim as its own? What sorts of problems come up when countries try to divide up the ocean and create boundaries? You can learn more about control and ownership of the oceans at


  1. Go to the library and find a book about deep-sea exploration. For example, you could choose Oceanographers and Explorers of the Sea by Kirk Polking or To the Bottom of the Sea: The Exploration of Exotic Life, the Titanic, and Other Secrets of the Oceanby George M. Sullivan. Write a 2-page review of the book you chose. 
  2. Books about exploration usually try to make the reader feel the sense of struggle and excitement of tackling the unknown. How would you start off a story about a descent to a previously unexplored part of the ocean? Write the first two paragraphs of such an account.


The ocean contains 328,000,000 cubic miles of salt water. How many gallons of water are in the ocean? If a typical Olympic swimming pool holds 1 million gallons of water, how many such pools would the oceans fill? If the ocean water were all piled on top of the United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), how deep would the water be?