GEOSCIENCE AUSTRALIA: DATA BEHIND THE SEARCH FOR MH370
Geoscience Australia recently released the sea floor mapping data collected during the first phase of the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The search for MH370 involved collecting large volumes of data in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean. The search was conducted in two phases – the first phase was a survey to collect bathymetry data, or data of the sea floor topography, to develop maps of the sea floor in the search area. These maps were used to safely guide the second phase of the search, the underwater search.
Australia, with the support of Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China, committed to releasing the data acquired during the two phases of the search to the public. Geoscience Australia is delivering the data on behalf of the Australian Government, with Phase One now released and Phase Two being released in mid-2018.
According to the Chief of Geoscience Australia’s Environmental Geoscience Division, Dr Stuart Minchin, the release of the data is especially significant given the vast quantities that were collected and processed throughout the search.
“Geoscience Australia has been involved in the search for the missing aircraft since early on. With more than 50 years’ experience in marine surveys, we provided advice to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau on procurement and planning for the search for MH370. We have also been responsible for the processing and analysis of the two phases of search data,” Dr Minchin said.
The data was collected for the sole purpose of locating the missing aircraft, but, as it is some of the first high resolution data of this region, it will also be valuable to the scientific community. The Phase One data shows the sea floor in never-before-seen detail, revealing ridges six kilometres wide and 15 kilometres long that rise 1500 metres above the sea floor, and fault valleys 1200 metres deep and five kilometres wide. (Source: Geoscience Australia)