An underwater “Grand Canyon” has been captured in images captured by a Royal Navy survey ship.
HMS Enterprise discovered the 250 metre deep canyon in the Red Sea during a nine-month mission to improve understanding of the waters east of Suez.
The 3D images were created after the ship left the Egyptian port of Safaga and were made using the Devonport-based ship’s multibeam echo sounder.
Commander Derek Rae, commanding officer of the Appledore-built ship, said: “These features could be the result of ancient rivers scouring through the rock strata before the Red Sea flooded millennia ago. Some may be far younger and still in the process of being created by underwater currents driven by the winds and tidal streams as they flow through this area of the Red Sea, carving their way through the soft sediment and being diverted by harder bed rock.
“Or there is always the possibility that they are a combination of the two. It is, however, almost certain to say that this is the closest that humans will ever get to gaze upon these truly impressive sights hundreds of metres beneath the surface.”
The echo sounder, fitted to Enterprise’s hull, produces images from the echoes returning from the sound pulses it sends out. It is a highly accurate way of measuring the sea bed to determine if it is deep enough for shipping.