An underwater expedition to explore the Eratosthenes Seamount off Cyprus aboard Robert Ballard's exploration ship, E/V Nautilus is about to begin, as daily Famagusta Gazette reports. Ballard, who is famed for discovering the wrecks of the Titanic and Bismarck, has arrived in Paphos and will head a team of geologists, biologists and oceanologists during the project.
The Eratosthenes Seamount is located about 100 km south of western Cyprus. It is a large, submerged massif, about 120 km long and 80 km wide. Its peak lies at the depth of 690 m and it rises 2000 m above the surrounding seafloor, which is located at the depth of up to 2,700 m and is a part of the Eratosthenes Abyssal Plain. It is one of the largest features on the Eastern Mediterranean seafloor. The Nautilus Exploration Program was founded in 2008 by Ballard and is a joint ocean exploration initiative of the Ocean Exploration Trust. The mission is led by Ballard and Katherine Croff Bell. In his statements, Ballard said that the team comprises of geologists, marine biologists and oceanologists and their work will be done with the assistance of satellite systems. Croff said that past explorations have shown the existence of a liquid that might contain methane, however she stressed that ''currently we are not here for energy''. The expedition is expected to last two weeks. Following Cyprus, Nautilus will head north to conduct mapping operations in the Southeast Aegean Sea near Bodrum, Turkey. (ANSAmed).