German Meteor expedition

The German Atlantic expedition explored the Atlantic between South America and Africa with the help of this put into service research vessel Meteor. The ship ran out on 16 April 1925 by William Haven and returned there on June 2, 1927.


1919, soon after the lost World War, the idea to show with the help of a research vessel of the Navy on the high seas again flag was created. More specifically, these plans were but a few years later, when Alfred Merz, a professor at the Institute of Marine Science in Berlin, founded in 1920, the President of the Emergency Association of German Science, Friedrich Schmidt -Ott could inspire for these plans. Also, Fritz Haber, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry in Berlin, was behind the project. Haber hoped, among other things, to win gold for the reparation of the empire of the sea, when the previously known concentration could confirm. A secondary purpose of the trip was that you wanted to show the Germans abroad in South America and the former German South West Africa.

Scientific Staff

The scientific team, led by Alfred Merz belonged among others to:

  • Günther Böhnecke, oceanographer,
  • Carl Wilhelm Correns, mineralogist,
  • Albert Defant, meteorologist,
  • Ernst Hentschel, biologist,
  • Erich Kuhlbrodt, meteorologist,
  • Otto Pratje, geologist,
  • Hermann Wattenberg, chemists,
  • Georg Wüst, oceanographer.

Course of the journey

In 14 east-west profiles of the Atlantic Ocean was ( and the atmosphere above it) examined and measured between South America and Africa under various aspects. For ongoing deep records the echo sounder in 1913, developed by Alexander Behm was used. On February 24, 1926, the expedition reached the southernmost point at 63 degrees 51 minutes. On the map, the ship was able to perpetuate, as you on 18 February 1926 on 48 ° 16 ' S, 8 ° 16' O 48.2666666666678.2666666666667 -560, a bank with a least depth of only 560 meters and discovered they "Meteor - bank " called. It was also the lowest point in the South Atlantic on the edge of the Sandwich Islands, then measured with 8050 m, now the Meteor depth is given as 8264 m. Merz fell ill soon after the beginning of the trip and died on 16 August 1925 in Buenos Aires. The commander, Captain Fritz Spiess, then formally took over the scientific management, while technically Georg Wüst took over.

Result of travel

The edited by Defant 16 Result volumes were published until 1941, the evaluation of the travel lasted until the 1960s. Already at the end of the trip was clear by measurements that the gold content of the sea was much too low for economic exploitation.