The Trail of Discovery

Plate tectonics and seafloor spreading revolutionized the big picture of how our planet works. Scientists were eager to zoom in to see details of what was happening at the seafloor—close-up and first-hand. They wanted to confirm, for example, that hydrothermal vents actually existed. A flurry of research cruises in the 1970s gave scientists the prize they sought—and something else that they never expected.

Dive to the Edge of Creation

In 1979, the National Science Foundation sponsored a return expedition to the vents at the Galápagos Rift. It was the first time that biologists got a look at the lush communities of life surrounding the vents. A film crew from the National Geographic Society participated in the cruise, and produced a documentary about the expedition called “Dive to the Edge of Creation.” Above is Part One of excerpts from the documentary. See Part Two »