MIRAGE II

A Tour of Marion Dufresne

One week into the MIRAGE II expedition, the Marion Dufresne French research vessel is navigating its way to the Wharton Basin in the northeast corner of the Indian Ocean. Marion Dufresne is 120 metres long and weighs more than 10,000 tonnes when fully loaded. There are 59 cabins on board, as well as a hospital, pharmacy, conference centre, library, dining room, gym, and more.

Ocean’s Calling

Five centuries ago, Leonardo da Vinci noticed fossilised sea creatures encrusted in the rocks around his house. He began to wonder whether, at some point, the mountains had been underwater. Da Vinci was right of course, but he would not be around to hear scientists explain why it was possible. Plate tectonics, now considered the unifying theory of geology, was born in 1968. Its birth was not easy and was spared no drama.

The Tide

It happened at 7:58am (Indonesian time) on 26 December 2004. In a few instants, the equivalent of 370 years of energy use in the United States, or 550 million times the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, was released off the west coast of Sumatra. While subducting beneath the Sunda Plate, the Indian Plate produced one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

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