Robert Ballard

Robert Ballard

Dr. Robert D. Ballard has long been associated with the National Geographic Society and is best known for his discovery of the legendary Titanic and underwater explorations of the Bismarck, Lusitania, and Britannic. He is also one of the world's foremost oceanographers and has for many years used submersibles to explore the hidden features of the deep ocean. His 1997 bestselling book, Lost Liners, told the story of the great transatlantic liners through memorable wrecks he has visited. Robert Ballard has also hosted National Geographic Television's Explorer program and acted as a special adviser on Steven Spielberg's futuristic Sea Quest television show. Each year, Dr. Ballard takes thousands of schoolchildren on an interactive expedition through the innovative JASON program. He is also the president of the Sea Research Foundation's Institute for Exploration in Mystic, Connecticut. 

Archaeological Oceanography

Princeton University Press, 2008

Archaeological Oceanography is the definitive book on the newly emerging field of deep-sea archaeology. Marine archaeologists have been finding and excavating underwater shipwrecks since at least the early 1950s, but until recently their explorations have been restricted to depths considered shallow by oceanographic standards. This book describes the latest advances that enable researchers to probe the secrets of the deep ocean, and the vital contributions these advances offer to archaeology and fields like maritime history and anthropology.

Renowned oceanographer Robert Ballard--who stunned the world with his discovery of the Titanic deep in the North Atlantic--has gathered together the pioneers of archaeological oceanography, a cross-disciplinary group of archaeologists, oceanographers, ocean engineers, and anthropologists who have undertaken ambitious expeditions into the deep sea. In this book, they discuss the history of archaeological oceanography and the evolution and use of advanced deep-submergence technology to locate and excavate ancient and modern shipwrecks and cultural and other sites deep under water. They offer examples from their own expeditions and explain the challenges future programs face in obtaining access to the resources needed to carry out this important and exciting research.

The contributors are Robert D. Ballard, Ali Can, Dwight F. Coleman, Mike J. Durbin, Ryan Eustace, Brendan Foley, Cathy Giangrande, Todd S. Gregory, Rachel L. Horlings, Jonathan Howland, Kevin McBride, James B. Newman, Dennis Piechota, Oscar Pizarro, Christopher Roman, Hanumant Singh, Cheryl Ward, and Sarah Webster.

Finding the Titanic

Level 4 (Grades 2 & 3 Nonfiction)

Scholastic Inc. 1993

The great ship Titanic sank in April 1912, and for almost seventy-five years lay unfound on the ocean floor. Scientist Robert Ballard dreamt of finding the lost ship, and this is the thrilling account of how he made this dream come true. Interspersed in the narrative is the story of the sinking itself, as told through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl, one of the fortunate survivors. The you-are-there narrative, photos, and drawings add to the excitement, and help readers to understand the magnitude of this great tragedy.

Exploring the Titanic:

How the Greatest Ship Ever Lost-Was Found

Black Walnut/Madison Press, 2010

Famed oceanographer Robert D. Ballard takes young readers to the bottom of the sea and into the luxurious sunken liner in this epic tale of discovery. As he explores the Titanic, children are taken back in time to this magnificent ship's tragic voyage through photographs, archival images, and informative diagrams—as well as evocative paintings by a leading Titanic artist. An adventure story as well as a history, this thrilling retelling of Ballard's amazing discovery is powerful and poignant.

Collision With History:

The Search for John F. Kennedy's PT 109

National Geographic, 2002

With the support of the Kennedy family, best-selling National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert D. Ballard embarks on the search for PT-109, the boat made famous by commander John F. Kennedy's heroic rescue efforts following a harrowing collision with a Japanese destroyer in WWII. The companion to a major National Geographic Explorer television documentary Forty years after his death and 60 years after his first collision with history four miles off the island of Gizo in the South Pacific, John F. Kennedy and his story still inspires readers. JFK's heroic efforts to save his 11-man PT 109 (personal torpedo boat) crew including - swimming close to 80 miles over a period of six days through Japanese- and shark-infested waters, at one point even towing an injured crewman by a rope in his teeth for a two-mile swim- come to life interwoven through a comprehensive history of PT boats and the World War II campaign in the Solomon Islands. Collision with History combines first person presence on Ballard's search expedition for the wreckage, survivor accounts, and Kennedy family members' recollections to introduce the reader to the young war hero who would later become president. Covering subjects such as modern exploration, World War II, and personal heroism, Ballard weaves a tale that spans 60 years.

The Eternal Darkness:

A Personal History of Deep-Sea Exploration

Princeton University Press, 2002

Until a few decades ago, the ocean depths were almost as mysterious and inaccessible as outer space. Oceans cover two-thirds of the earth's surface with an average depth of more than two miles--yet humans had never ventured more than a few hundred feet below the waves. One of the great scientific and archaeological feats of our time has been finally to cast light on the "eternal darkness" of the deep sea. This is the story of that achievement, told by the man who has done more than any other to make it possible: Robert Ballard.

Ballard discovered the wreck of the Titanic. He led the teams that discovered hydrothermal vents and "black smokers"—cracks in the ocean floor where springs of superheated water support some of the strangest life-forms on the planet. He was a diver on the team that explored the mid-Atlantic ridge for the first time, confirming the theory of plate tectonics. Today, using a nuclear submarine from the U.S. Navy, he's exploring the ancient trade routes of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea for the remains of historic vessels and their cargo. In this book, he combines science, history, spectacular illustrations, and first-hand stories from his own expeditions in a uniquely personal account of how twentieth-century explorers have pushed back the frontiers of technology to take us into the midst of a world we could once only guess at.

Ballard begins in 1930 with William Beebe and Otis Barton, pioneers of the ocean depths who made the world's first deep-sea dives in a cramped steel sphere. He introduces us to Auguste and Jacques Piccard, whose "Bathyscaph" descended in 1960 to the lowest point on the ocean floor. He reviews the celebrated advances made by Jacques Cousteau. He describes his own major discoveries--from sea-floor spreading to black smokers--as well as his technical breakthroughs, including the development of remote-operated underwater vehicles and the revolutionary search techniques that led to the discovery and exploration of the Titanic, the Nazi battleship Bismarck, ancient trading vessels, and other great ships.

Readers will come away with a richer understanding of history, earth science, biology, and marine technology--and a new appreciation for the remarkable men and women who have explored some of the most remote and fascinating places on the planet.


Archeological Oceanography

[W]e welcome the book as another step towards marine archaeology becoming integrated into the variety of other oceanographic sciences being used to study the marine environment. -- Ingrid Ward and Piers Larcombe, Journal of Archaeological Science

This wide-ranging book will do much to inform researchers and the public about the more innovative uses of some remarkable new technologies in underwater archaeology. Many of the concepts discussed in this book can be developed further, but it is already clear that underwater archaeology is becoming established as an historical science. -- Richard A. Gould, Journal of Field Archaeology

This timely and beautifully produced volume is the first to explicitly explore the examination of the residues of human activity now in the deep ocean. . . . Famed oceanographer and Titanic wreckage discoverer Ballard also offers great case studies from many famous deep-water finds (Titanic, Bismarck, Lusitania, WW II-era shipwrecks of Guadalcanal and Midway, and JFK's PT-109), as well as less well-known ancient shipwrecks such as the Skerki Bank, Ashkelon, and Black Sea sites. -- N.T. Richards, Choice

[I]t is a great synergy of the work by Ballard and his associated teams. It should enthuse students of the subject and lead them down the path to further research, and it also has a great deal to say to the casual reader who would like to be better informed about the iconic discoveries described and how them came about. -- Garry Momber, Underwater Technology



Exploring the Titanic

From Publishers Weekly
The focus of this book is the recent recovery of the most famous shipwreck of this century. Taller than the Empire State or any building of her day, the Titanic carried three anchors (one weighing 15 tons), had three million rivets and was nicknamed "The Millionaire's Special." Details of her building and maiden voyage are accompanied by photographs and drawings of the ship's many staterooms, ballrooms, lounges, dining rooms, the swimming pool and the huge glass dome over its grand, curving, wrought-iron stairway. All the ship needed was more lifeboats. The night of April 14, 1912, when the ship slowly sank after hitting an iceberg, is retold in equal detail. Then Ballard narrates the years of search using modern technology, which located the ship in 1986 at a depth of 12,690 feet, more than two miles down. Graphs, drawings, sketches, photos and text combine for an excellent book on the famous disaster. Ages 8-12. — Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.



Collision with History
The Search for John F. Kennedy's PT 109 Library Journal

On a foggy August night in 1943, the future President's PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer in the Solomon Islands. Two of the 13-man crew died in the action, which cut their boat in two. Kennedy acquitted himself well in the aftermath, assisting two injured crewmen, leading the survivors to nearby islands and eventually getting word to rescuers. In the tradition of his explorations of the Titanic and Bismarck wrecks, Ballard (with help from writer/consultant Morgan) attempts to set the strategic and tactical stage for Kennedy's war, but the result is rather disappointing. The text then jumps forward to the May 2002 expedition to locate the wreck. There is some material describing the geography of the Solomons and their modern inhabitants. Chapter 5, which is given over to the actual search and discovery, might have made a detailed magazine article but is scarcely sufficient to form the core of a book. Heavily illustrated with photos and National Geographic reconstructions, and with family remembrances and an introduction by Sen. Edward Kennedy, this coffee-table book feels rushed into print to accompany the promised television documentary. A marginal purchase unless the documentary generates demand.
-- Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.            


Collision with Darkness

The Eternal Darkness is a straightforward look at a complicated business that shows again not just that exploration is worth doing but that even at home here on earth it is far from over. . . . [It] is not really a book about the past. It's a promise that the "E" word remains the deepest adventure of them all. -- Michael Parfit, New York Times Book Review

Drawing from the expertise gained during his more than 100 trips into the abyss, Ballard highlights historical and scientific events that he and Hively expertly weave into a series of scintillating tales. -- Loretta DiPietro, Scientific American

Dr. Ballard is a passionate advocate of deep-sea exploration, pointing out that all such expeditions so far undertaken have probably surveyed less than one percent of the sea floor. . . . One can hardly disagree with Dr. Ballard's proposal that we should expand that one percent. -- The Atlantic Monthly

The man who found the Titanic, discovered black smokers on the sea floor, and first ventured into the mid-Atlantic ridge tells the story of deep-sea exploration. . . . Scores of photographs highlight the steadily absorbing text; together, words and pictures present a vital and authoritative general history of humanity's adventures deep beneath the waves. -- Publishers Weekly

The Eternal Darkness is an excellent book . . . It is authoritative and well written, and . . . it is impossible to put down. -- Richard Shelton, Times Literary Supplement

Titanic discoverer Ballard . . . handily summarizes a technology unfamiliar to many readers. Ballard has published popular books about his recovery of other famous sunken ships besides the movie's namesake, which adds cachet to this more scholarly work. -- Booklist

Doing science is exciting! This is the main message of Ballard's fascinating combination memoir and history of deep ocean science. -- Library Journal

The Eternal Darkness is a highly readable book. . . . I am always on the lookout for books that will motivate and enthuse potential and present students. The Eternal Darkness will become a firm favourite on that list, as Ballard shows what can be achieved by hard work, determination and unbounded enthusiasm. -- Paul Tyler, New Scientist

A remarkable story of science and adventure, as fascinating as the exploration of space and the landing on the moon. -- American Way

An informative and interesting book written with authority on a fascinating subject. -- Daniel Lenihan, Naval History

Pitched to the lay reader, Ballard's The Eternal Darkness is engaging, sometimes thrilling and always authentic. . . . Ballard was also involved in the 1985 discovery of the Titanic, and his account of the sleuthing that went into the hunt makes for terrific reading. . . . -- Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World

This book takes the reader into the deep-sea realm along the discovery paths of famous deep-sea explorers as chronicled by the preeminent explorer of our time. Ballard's book will leave readers enlightened and concerned about the expanding role the oceans are playing as the future evolves. -- Choice

Cool technology meets personal obsession in this history that's also a memoir by the discoverer of the wreck of the Titanic. Break out the bathospheres, the minisubs and the ROVs (Remote Operated Vehicles); it's time to take the plunge and see what's Down There. -- Washington Post Book World      

Therea Volcano (4:59)
September 11, 2008
Wild Chronicles travels to the Greek island of Santorini, the ancient home of a thriving maritime community that vanished following the second-largest volcano eruption in human history. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard and his team dive into the Aegean Sea to investigate the islands surrounding volcano system where active hydrothermal vents may help predict the next big eruption.

Robert Ballard: Exploring the ocean's hidden worlds (19:46)
May 21, 2008
Ocean explorer Robert Ballard takes us on a mindbending trip to hidden worlds underwater, where he and other researchers are finding unexpected life, resources, even new mountains. He makes a case for serious exploration and mapping. Google Ocean, anyone? 

NOAA Titanic Expedition 2004: Breathtaking Wreck Footage
December 18, 2007
Breathtaking... Nearly 20 years after first finding the sunken remains of the R.M.S. Titanic, marine explorer Robert Ballard returned in June 2004 helped by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Ocean Exploration to study the ship's rapid deterioration.

We regret that Dr. Ballard cannot be contacted directly via email.