Ballard, Robert Duane

Ballard, Robert Duane bălˈərd [key], 1942–, American marine geologist, b. Wichita, Kans.; Ph.D. Univ. of Rhode Island, 1974. From 1969 to 1997 he was associated with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, where he became the head of the Deep Submergence Laboratory. He combined interests in plate tectonics and engineering to participate in the development of the manned deep-sea submersible Alvin and to develop remotely navigated underwater survey equipment that made possible detailed mapping of the midocean ridge. Some of this equipment was used in his searches for the wrecks of the Titanic, the Lusitania, the German battleship Bismarck, and John F. Kennedy's PT 109. During exploration of the Galapagos rift, he was among the first to observe the ecosystems surrounding hydrothermal vents. Well known for his emphasis on educating the public, he has written Exploring Our Living Planet (1983) and other books and founded the Jason Project, which allows young people to participate in expeditions via live hook-ups with their schools. In 2002 he joined the faculty of the Univ. of Rhode Island as a professor of oceanography; he heads the Center for Ocean Exploration and Institute for Archaeological Oceanography there. Ballard is also associated with the Mystic (Conn.) Marine Aquarium, where he heads (1994–) the Institute for Exploration.

See his The Eternal Darkness: A Personal History of Deep-Sea Exploration (2000; with W. Hively).

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