Finder of Titanic Wreck to Speak at Ocean Floor Forum - 19/05/2016

Among the keynote speakers at a major conference on the comprehensive mapping of the ocean floor, being held from 15-17 June 2016 in Monaco, is Dr Robert Ballard who discovered the wreck of the 'Titanic' in 1985. In the years following that discovery, he also found many other shipwrecks around the world, such as the 'Bismarck' in 1989, the 'Yorktown' in 1998 (sunk in the World War II Battle of Midway) and the wreck of John F Kennedy’s 'PT-109' off the Solomon Islands in 2002.

In addition he located over 50 ancient shipwrecks in the deep-water regions of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas, including ones in a high state of preservation dating back to the Iron Age. Dr Ballard is director of the Center for Ocean Exploration at the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island and president of the Ocean Exploration Trust that operates one of America’s dedicated ships of exploration.

Important Discoveries

While finding  famous wrecks has captured the imagination of the public, Dr Ballard believes his most important discoveries were of hydrothermal vents and ‘black smokers’ in the Galapagos Rift and East Pacific Rise in 1977 and 1979 along with their exotic life forms living off the energy of the Earth through a process now called chemosynthesis. 

His discoveries also include sunken remains of ships along ancient trade routes in the Mediterranean Sea; two ancient Phoenician ships off Israel, the oldest shipwrecks ever found in deep water; and four 1,500-year-old wooden ships, one almost perfectly preserved in the Black Sea.  Dr Ballard’s Black Sea project sought evidence of a great flood that may have struck the region thousands of years ago – perhaps the location of the great Biblical Flood.


Dr Ballard has 22 honorary degrees and six military awards. He was also a Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving in the Navy from 1967 to 1997.  He received the National Geographic Society’s prestigious Hubbard Medal in 1996 for “extraordinary accomplishments in coaxing secrets from the world’s oceans and engaging students in the wonder of science.”   In 2014, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr Ballard has published numerous books, scientific papers, and a dozen articles in National Geographic magazine.   Dr Ballard also has been featured in several National Geographic television programs, including the record-breaking “Secrets of the Titanic.”


The conference, the Forum for Future Ocean Floor Mapping is being held jointly by the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO), and The Nippon Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation with its headquarters in Tokyo. The Nippon Foundation is funding the Forum which will bring together over 150 senior representatives, scientists and scholars from major ocean-related and international organisations, to discuss the importance of understanding the shape of the ocean floor. This will enable them address, more accurately, critical issues such as tsunamis, coastal change, undersea resource extraction, marine ecology and degradation, ocean warming, acidification, and the impact of global climate change. The Forum will culminate in the development of a Roadmap for Future Ocean Floor Mapping.

Video: 2004 Titanic

Last updated: 21/11/2019