What Experiments Did Charles Wyville Thomson and Other Scientists Conduct On the Challenger Expedition?

The scientists on board the Challenger were experts in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics, and Charles Wyville Thomson’s plan for the voyage was very ambitious.

They would record data and collect samples at 362 observation stations around the world.

Here’s a list of the observations and experiments that were performed at most stations:

  • The depth of the ocean was measured.
  • A sample of material from the ocean floor was gathered for chemical and physical examination.
  • Samples of seawater from various depths were gathered for chemical and physical examination.
  • The temperature of the seawater was measured at various depths.
  • A dredge collected a sample of living things from the ocean floor.
  • An adjustable tow net collected a sample of living things from the surface and from medium depths.
  • Atmospheric conditions and other weather data were measured and recorded.
  • The direction and speed of the surface current were determined. Whenever possible, underwater currents were also measured.
  • Samples that were not analyzed on board were stored for examination at the end of the expedition. It would eventually take over 100 scientists to complete the work on all the samples Thomson and the Challenger brought back to England.

Among the supplies taken on the Challenger expedition was 144 miles of rope for measuring ocean depths.

Of the 243 men who embarked with the Challenger, only 144 returned with the ship.

Sixty had jumped ship at different ports, 29 had been left ashore due to illness, and 10 had died.