WHOI: Alvin Submersible Makes 5000th Dive in Gulf of California

Photo: Drew Bewely, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)-operated human-occupied research submersible, Alvin, has made it’s 5000th dive at the end of November 2018.

Alvin made its 5,000th dive during an expedition to the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California.

The Navy-owned sub has been through a series of upgrades and advances that have completely re-made the vehicle and vastly expanded its capabilities.

“Alvin revolutionized our understanding of the extremes that life can tolerate and caused us to re-think the origin of life on our planet,” said Adam Soule, chief scientist for the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF), which operates the sub. “The sub also continues to expand our knowledge of where and how life might exist on other planets.” 

Alvin, which is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, executes about 100 dives per year, and over its life has accounted for more than half of all of the scientific dives carried out by human-occupied submersibles worldwide, WHOI noted.

Currently, Alvin reaches a depth of 4,500 meters, and soon the sub will complete the final phase of its current upgrade, which will enable it to dive to 6,500 meters, putting 98 percent of the seafloor within its reach.

Alvin helped inspire the development of new generations of deep-submergence technology and vehicles,” said Andy Bowen, director of the National Deep Submergence Facility at WHOI. “And it continues to inspire generations of future scientists, engineers, and explorers.”

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