New seafloor map to help spot missing Malaysian airplane?

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A new illustration of the seafloor underneath the Indian Ocean where search efforts have focused to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could shed additional light on what type of underwater vehicles might be used in the search operation.

The contact with Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was lost March 8.

“The terrain and depths shown in the map could help searchers choose the appropriate underwater robotic vehicles they might use to look for the missing plane,” said Walter Smith from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The seafloor topography map illustrates jagged plateaus, ridges and other underwater features of a large area underneath the Indian Ocean.

The new illustration of a 2,000 km by 1,400 km area where the plane might be shows locations on the seafloor corresponding to where acoustic signals from the airplane’s black boxes were reportedly detected at the surface by two vessels in the area.

It also shows the two plateaus near where these “pings” were heard.

“Satellite altimetry has made it possible to depict the topography of vast regions of the seafloor that would otherwise have remained unmapped,” Smith said.