Narrator: This is Science Today. New data from the seafloor are giving researchers the most detailed images to date of the Earth's mantle beneath the oceans. John Orcutt of the University of California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography was in charge of several instruments on the seafloor under the South Pacific, which took long-term seismic recordings of the Earth's most volcanically active area.
Orcutt: We are essentially taking a CAT scan of the mantle of the Earth using large earthquakes and we record the passage of seismic waves through the Earth, much like x-rays would pass through the human body. And by making measurements of the arrivals of the data from these distant events, we're able to go back and construct an image of what the subsurface looks like two hundred miles, let's say, inside the Earth.
Narrator: Such new observing systems in the ocean will give researchers a better understanding of how the Earth system itself works.
Orcutt: And that includes climate, for example. But it's also going to include things like volcanic and earthquake hazard. We're going to understand the science of how the Earth works an awfully lot better than we do today.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.