Deep Fathom

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Deep Fathom
Deep Fathom.jpg
AuthorJames Rollins
CountryUnited States
Published2001 (HarperCollins)
Media typePrint (Paperback)
453 - British paperback (ISBN 978-0-380-81880-8)

Deep Fathom is a novel by James Rollins.


Ex-Navy SEAL Jack Kirkland surfaces from an aborted underwater salvage mission to find the earth burning. Solar flares have triggered a series of gargantuan natural disasters. Earthquakes and hellfire rock the globe. Air Force One has vanished from the skies with America's president on board. Now, with the U.S. on the narrow brink of nuclear apocalypse, Kirkland must pilot his oceangoing exploration ship, Deep Fathom, on a desperate mission miles below the ocean's surface. There devastating secrets await him - and a power an ancient civilization could not contain has been cast out into modern day. And it will forever alter a world that's already racing toward its own destruction.


The book starts off with three different perspectives of people across the world on a day of a solar eclipse, the first one of the new millennium. One of these characters happen around the President of the United States who is watching the eclipse from the island of Guam on a diplomatic mission with the Chinese. While the eclipse starts off fine, there are earthquakes on the island and the President is forced to evacuate on Air Force One.

At the same time, Jack Kirkland is on an underwater salvage mission in the Pacific, trying to salvage gold bricks from a sunken Japanese ship when an underwater earthquake occurs causing an underwater volcanic eruption and the magma consequently consumes the ship taking all but one brick of the gold with it. Kirkland returns to his ship, a salvage boat - Deep Fathom, with the brick and shares the disappointment with his team when they are radioed by the U.S. Navy to go to a site close to where they are. Though reluctant, the Deep Fathom proceeds towards the co-ordinates given.

On the other side, Canadian Professor Karen Grace and Professor Miyuki Nakano, Karen's Japanese friend from Ryukyu University, are in Okinawa trying to get to the jetty during a curfew. Undeterred by earthquakes, they escape from patrols and get to the boat which Karen had hired to take them to the twin dragons, submerged pyramids which had come above the sea level along with a whole city. When they get there they go to a large pyramid to explore but are interrupted with three men come from nowhere and ask them to leave. The women refuse and after being chased deep into the pyramid, they find a star-shaped crystal. Using the crystal, the women escape and return to Okinawa.

Kirkland and his ship are requested to salvage at a crash site, which turns out to be the site where Air Force One crashed after taking off from Guam. Meanwhile, David Spangler, a covert operations commander and an old acquaintance of Kirkland is ordered by his boss in CIA and the vice-president to secure the black boxes of the crashed plane. Spangler, turns out to be the brother of Kirkland's fiancee, who was killed during a botched space mission, and now vengeful, blaming Jack for his sister's death. Spangler decides to kill Kirkland as a side operation.

Kirkland uses the Deep Fathom's submersible to find the crash site and along with it, a huge crystal pillar sticking out the ground with the plane's debris all around it. He also finds that all the metal from the plane seems to be magnetized as they work to get the pieces above. Another peculiarity is that his submersible seems to lose contact to the ship every time he goes near the pillar and he takes more pictures for his team to study of the pillar. Kirkland and his team do not inform the Navy about the pillar but start investigating it on their own after they find ancient script on the pillar. Though slow work, they eventually find the plane's black boxes, which are taken away by Spangler who subsequently orders Deep Fathom off the site.

The writing is the same as that found by Karen Grace in the pyramid tunnel. She responds to the emails and decides to meet with Kirkland at Okinawa. Before Kirkland leaves, Spangler sets up two bombs to kill everyone but the one with Kirkland goes out of range before Spangler could detonate it. Kirkland and Grace then go to the risen pyramids and are attacked by fighter jets, when they get away they are found by the people who tried to kill Karen the last time she was there. Only, this time they don't try to kill them. The men, one who is named Mwahu, take them back to Okinawa.

When they meet with Miyuki they discover that the inscriptions are Rongorongo through the use of Miyuki's computer system which is an Artificial Intelligence system and how the same writing is found in many other places around the world theorizing that there was one major civilization which actually travelled and populated the other parts of the world. Soon Kirkland gets a call from his ship the Deep Fathom telling him they have a bomb aboard and when the phone terminates he believes that the bomb had exploded. Spangler, who had tapped into the call, is happy as Kirkland's ship and friends were now gone.

Karen, Kirkland and Miyuki then go to the pyramid city with Mwahu to following the first civilizations clues but when they arrive they are attacked by Spangler's men. Karen is caught, but the others escape and Kirkland is found by the Deep Fathom's crew who are still alive because they defused the bomb and sent out a false message to trick Spangler. Kirkland decides to rescue Karen and when he arrives on Spangler's ship he is fought off by Spangler and his men. Kirkland's team finds out that soon the world is going to be destroyed when a new solar flare hits the pillar by the crash site of Air Force One.

Karen is taken to an underwater research base by the pillar where she is kept as prisoner. When she can send them a message they decide another strategy of rescuing Karen. When Kirkland leaves this time in his submersible towards the underwater station he is attacked by Spangler in another submersible. After a brief fight Spangler is killed by the giant squid which tried to attack Kirkland earlier. Kirkland manages to get on board the deserted underwater base and is told by his team aboard his ship that they are going to destroy the pillar to prevent the destruction of the Earth by shooting it with a particle beam from a satellite that Kirkland had placed in space during his space mission. When the pillar is destroyed, the world goes on like it would have on the day of the eclipse without the devastating earthquakes.


Jack Kirkland[edit]

An ex-navy SEAL who placed a satellite into space, the trip cost his crew on the shuttle their lives; he was the only survivor.

Karen Grace[edit]

A Canadian professor who first finds the writings. Her grandfather (James Churchward) had theorized about the lost continent, but she found it.

Miyuki Nakano[edit]

A Japanese Nobel prize winner who deciphered the writings.

David Spangler[edit]

Archenemy of Jack, brother to Jennifer, who died on the mission that Jack survived.

Lisa Cummings[edit]

Medical doctor and former lover of Jack Kirkland. She later appears in the James Rollins novel "Black Order" in which she begins a romance with Director Painter Crowe of the SIGMA Force team and appears in subsequent SIGMA Force novels.