Detailed map of the Atlantic, showing the tracks of the Challenger Expedition during the first 8 months of its 4 year expedition.
The Challenger expedition of 1872-76 was a scientific exercise that made many discoveries to lay the foundation of oceanography. The expedition was named after the mother vessel, HMS Challenger. Prompted Charles Wyville Thomson, the Royal Society of London obtained the use of Challenger from the Royal Navy and in 1872 modified the ship for scientific work, equipping her with separate laboratories for natural history and chemistry.
Under the scientific supervision of Thomson himself, she travelled nearly 70,000 nautical miles surveying and exploring. The result was the Report Of The Scientific Results of the Exploring Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-76 which, among many other discoveries, catalogued over 4,000 previously unknown species. John Murray, who supervised the publication, described the report as "the greatest advance in the knowledge of our planet since the celebrated discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries".