17 Jun 2022
17 Jun 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HGSS.

HMS Challenger and SMS Gazelle – their 19th century voyages compared

William John Gould William John Gould
  • Marine Physics and Ocean Climate, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK

Abstract. This paper analyses the pioneering global voyages of HMS Challenger and SMS Gazelle in the 1870s – a time of rapid scientific advances and technological innovation. The voyage of Challenger has become well known as marking the start of the global-scale science of oceanography. The voyage of the Gazelle is much less well known despite the two voyages ending in the same year, 1876, and having similar geographical and scientific scope.

Rather than focussing on the scientific achievements, the paper concentrates on how the expeditions were planned and executed, the lives and characters of the personnel involved and the underlying motivation behind the voyages. The paper presents the author’s translations of key elements of the Gazelle reports as a means of introducing the Gazelle expedition to an English-speaking readership.

William John Gould

Status: open (until 23 Jul 2022)

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William John Gould

William John Gould


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Short summary
The paper compares the historical context, organisation, personnel, conduct and scientific innovation of the voyages of HMS Challenger (1872–6) and SMS Gazelle (1874–6). Though the expeditions were in many regards similar, that of Challenger became famous and is regarded as marking the start of global marine science while the Gazelle voyage remains almost unknown. Why? A surprising factor may be what we now know as “Health and Safety” issues.