The Floors of the Oceans

Post dateMarch 22nd, 2013 by Stephanie Spear in Travel | Comments Off

“When we began in 1952,” Heezen told me a decade later, “only a few such profiles had ever been drawn across the Atlantic.” He and Marie Tharp produced scores, then hundreds, finally thousands of them. In 1959 they published, with Maurice Ewing, The Floors of the Oceans: I. The North At­lantic. It accompanied the first of a series of maps that would encompass the globe.


Later their diagrams would be rendered by an Austrian mountain artist, Heinrich C. Berann, into more generalized, full-color map paintings. These were issued, one by one, by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. To Hee­zen’s great satisfaction (he was sometimes criticized by colleagues for extrapolating and drawing “poetic truths”), the maps blos­somed on walls of schools and colleges—and in his colleagues’ offices—the world over.

BEFORE THE FIRST appeared,however, Marie Tharp had made a historic discovery of her own. She noticed that on profile after profile of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a deep V shaped valley appeared to run along the very crest, or centerline. When she first ven­tured that this rift might extend the entire length of the range, Heezen didn’t pay much attention. The idea seemed too vague, too farfetched.


About the same time Ewing and Press and other geologists at Lamont were restudying world earthquake records. Heezen began plotting the centers of the quakes on the detailed charts Marie Tharp was drawing.

The earthquakes followed the ridge crest—the path which Marie said held a rift valley. “It was as if a light suddenly went on,” Bruce Heezen said to me long after­ward. “The rift indeed was there. The earth­quakes were taking place along it.”

Belts of earthquakes had been charted down the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and along In­dian Ocean and Pacific ridges—indeed, around the whole earth. Heezen realized that the quakes traced a far more extensive feature of the planet’s hard surface than had ever been suspected: a massive scar 40,000 miles long, curving around the globe like the seam of a baseball. The Mid-Ocean Ridge, as Heezen named the system, now is known to cover as much of the earth’s surface as all the continents put together.

It is volcanic and shaken by earthquakes. The fiery upthrusts of Iceland, the Azores, Tristan da Cunha, Reunion, the Galapagos are simply places where active volcanoes of the ridge system rise above water.


ASMORE and more ocean expeditions proved that the central rift was really there, other facts emerged. Great east-west displacements cut across it; the Canadian geologist J. Tuzo Wilson named them transform faults. Many of the ridge quakes came from them. Not only was there high heat flow from within the earth along the ridge; most rocks dredged from its slopes were of fresh lava. Something was going on, something mas­sive and basic.


Almost no sediments were found on the central slopes of the ridge. Indeed, and more mystifying, nowhere in the oceans was there as much or as old sediment as there should be if the oceans were as old as the earth itself. Where had the mud and ooze gone?

“I am reasonably certain,” oceanogra­pher Roger Revelle was to say long after, “that Maurice Ewing went to his grave be­lieving that somewhere in the deep sea there was a place where  sediments of all geologic ages, back to one or two billion years, had been deposited one on top of the other.”

Yet nothing from the ocean floors, neither sediments nor bedrock, has yet been found older than about 200 million years. Were the New World of the Ocean continents in fact drifting, bulldozing off the sediments as they went? Read more interesting information on polygraph in Manchester

About 1910 both a U. S. geologist, Frank B. Taylor, and a German meteorologist, Al­fred Wegener, had proposed continental drift as a serious possibility. The idea was still being laughed at by many geologists in 1960. But at the same time, in 1959 and 1960, a few bold theorists were beginning to put forward a wholly new idea: Was the sea-floor itself moving, carrying the continents with it? Were the oceans growing wider?


Post dateOctober 19th, 2012 by Stephanie Spear in Travel | Comments Off

Unless you’re fortunate enough to know someone who can arrange your safari, you will find that safari brokers are as elusive as the safari outfitters themselves. There are only a few safari brokers and they tend not to advertise. A conventional travel agent is unlikely to be able to help unless you ask only for travel barcelona.

Before a broker can advise you on the best destination, time of year, type of safari and safari outfitter, he will need to know you and the other members of your party quite well. He should try to discover your motivation, what experience you have had, what you hope to do and discover – both about Africa and yourself. This sounds rather like a professional consultation – and it is exactly that. The old-style safari is hard to find in a tour operator’s glossy brochure.

Camel Caravan


It is unfortunate that some commentators are already beginning to refer to ‘Vanishing Africa’ when only eighty years ago, it was the ‘Dark Continent’. There’s an old saying – ‘in Africa, we have time’ for the wildlife this is now in some doubt.

Although the face of Africa has changed considerably since the early days of exploration, in the unspoilt bush the country’s heart still beats as strongly as ever. This is the Africa of the story books, one of the most fascinating places on earth, filled with magic and mystery to be discovered on an old-style safari.

Pilgrimage to Kairouan

Kairouan means “caravan”. Imagine a caravan of camels, loaded with the carpets for which Kairouan is famous, driven by enigmatically-hooded Berbers closely wrapped against the pervasive sands, crossing the Sahara to the fabled city. Second only to Mecca as a place of pilgrimage for Muslims, it is said that seven visits to Kairouan are equivalent to one to the Holy of Holies.

Kairouan, Tunisia

Kairouan is a monument to faith, built out of religious ardour in 670 AD and intended by the Muslims as a base for expansion into the west. Later it was to be the glorious Arab capital, famous throughout the Muslim world for its exquisite mosques, as a centre of learning and literature with its Koranic schools and court poets, its sumptuous palaces and its vast Aghlabite pools, constructed in the ninth century to provide water for the flourishing city – an oasis in the Sahara.

Nowadays you don’t need to ride a camel to get to Kairouan. An air-conditioned coach on an excursion from your hotel in Tunis, 156 kilometres north, will spirit you there in a few hours. You can also hire a car, use one of the nine buses that depart daily from the Square Bab Alioua in Tunis, or you can share a five-passenger taxi from No. 71 Avenue Farhat Hachet, which depart throughout the day as they are filled.

The first sign of Kairouan after you have crossed the miles of the Sebkhat Sidi el-Hari’s saltdesolation is the minaretof its Great Mosque, distinctive above a welcome band of cypress trees.

kairouan mosque Tunisia

Make no mistake, it is very hot in Kairouan, and this plus its distance deters the tourist, protecting the city from crowds. It is a unique, sensitively-preserved and restored walled Islamic city and whether you are Muslim or not it is a perfect place of pilgrimage for anyone interested in history, art, architecture or religion.

Kairouan lies on important caravan routes, and on their third incursion in the seventh century into what is now Tunisian territory, then called lfriqyia, the Muslim conquerors chose the site for their capital. It was equidistant from their coastal enemies, the Byzantines, and those in the hills, the Berbers. The Muslims raided again in 670, and this time stayed. As their leader, Oqba bin Nafi, arrived, a spring opened at his feet and in it he found a gold cup lost years before in Mecca. The sanctity of Kairouan Mosque established.

Stately Apartments

Post dateSeptember 27th, 2012 by Stephanie Spear in Travel | Comments Off

For most mortals, the prospect of living in a stately country residence with beautifully proportioned reception rooms and amply aced parkland is but a fleeting fantasy… a ‘dream on’ scenario synonymous with prohibitive price tags and onerous running costs. But think ‘conversions’ ­by way of a wing or an apartment within a large country house — and a slice of the good life could be yours.

`The demand for such properties has risen dramatically over the past 10 to 15 years; then, people wanted to live in a big house at the end of a mile long drive or in New York holiday apartments. Now they want to have neighbours close by,’ comments Mark Taylor of Cluttons Daniel Smith, who adds that because many such apartments are leasehold, there is usually a management company on hand to take care of the grounds and common parts.

Tower House

`Families, couples and single people like the feeling of living in a small, well-managed community and the sense of security it affords; but the concept also appeals to older couples whose offspring have flown the family seat and who do not want to trade down to anything too small or modern,’ says Martin Lamb of Knight Frank’s Exeter office, who is handling the sale of Grade II* listed Maristow, near Plymouth, Devon. Owned by the same family from 1770 until 1995, when it was sold to a company under the direction of ‘conversion king’ Kit Martin, it now provides 12 individual properties with shared use of some 42 acres of parkland.

Lantern House Twin Bedroom

The four-bedroom Tower House and two-bedroom Lantern House are now for sale at £175,000 and £195,000 respectively. These are less expensive than London bed and breakfast  or b&b Paris. Six miles from Kingsbridge, South Devon and less than a mile from the sea, a spacious three-bedroom ground-floor apartment in a handsome Regency manor house is recommended by Marchand Petit (01548 857588); it is also on the market for £195,000, as is an elegant two-bedroom ground-floor flat in the west wing of Palladian Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire, which is being marketed by FPD Savills (01865 269000). Nearby at Bliss Mill, Chipping Norton, within the imaginative early 1990s conversion of this historic tweed mill’s Warping House, a two-bedroom property is now for sale at £189,950, benefitting from a large leisure centre with an indoor pool, spa bath, snooker room, squash court and two tennis courts. Simon Merton of Strutt & Parker (01608 650502) says this former show house would make an ideal `lock up and go’ pied a terre or weekend retreat.

Sherborne Guest House


Seventeen miles from Cheltenham, Sherborne House was converted in 1982 to create 30 apartments that enjoy access to some 12 acres of grounds, complete with a hard tennis court, indoor swimming pool, and heated orangery. Overlooking the pretty rose garden, a ground-floor flat with two bedrooms and bathrooms is now on the market for £295,000 through Lane Fox, who, together with Hamptons International, is also instructed on the Library Suite; one of the principal two/three-bedroom apartments in this imposing Grade II* Cotswold Manor House, it incorporates the magnificent library (now a drawing room) which features carved oak shelves and an ornamental ceiling by Anthony Salvin, while the dining room’s barrel-vaulted stone ceiling is believed to date back to the 1 1 th century when it was a mead cellar of the original monastic grange. Offers in the region of £435,000 are invited.