The Royal Navy ship, HMS Enterprise, discovered and mapped a 250 meter-deep canyon on the seabed of Red Sea. The ‘Grand Canyon’, as they nicknamed it, was captured in 3D images by the high-tech echo sounder fitted to Enterprise’s hull. Without this top-notch technology no human eye would have ever seen this underwater sight.
HMS Enterprise sails the Middle East in a nine-month survey mission to update some of the Admiralty Charts used by seafarers. The mapping of the waters is facilitated by a state-of-the-art multi-beam echo sounder. The sound pulses emitted, reflect on the underwater surfaces and their ‘echo’ produces highly accurate 3D images. This method is able to determine if the depth of the water and the sea bed topography are safe for navigation and shipping.
The ‘Grand Canyon’ was discovered after the ship left the Egyptian port of Safaga. The impressive 3D images caught the attention of the crew and attracted the interest of the scientists. According to Derek Rae, commanding officer of EMS Enterprise, the features revealed in the 3D images could be the result of ancient rivers ‘eating’ at the rock millennia ago, before the Red Sea was a sea. The underwater currents continued the work, carving even deeper the bedrock, and giving us the impressive images we see today.