If you’ve ever wanted to go on a field trip to the ocean floor, well, now is the time, as scientists have uncovered the first digital map of the bottom on the sea. And the deep sea cartographers have found down brings forth old news about the way the Earth works.
No, the scientists did not find the pineapple home of SpongeBob SquarePants. Instead they found clues that they could never have foreseen about how the bottom of the ocean stores carbon away so it doesn’t damage the atmosphere, and how it regulates our climate.
You would have never thought that the seafloor would be so interestingly diverse. Besides the mysteries that lie there in terms of flora and fauna, there are also many, many types of geological remains and debris, which have been extremely well preserved.
Also, this new research can completely change the way we look at rocks. Specifically, seafloor deposits which in time turned solid and were brought ashore. As the results emerge, we end up realizing how little we actually know about our own planet.
Past speculation has said that we know less about what lies underneath our seas than what lies in our solar system, as space exploration has always gotten the most money when put against deep sea diving. Yet, now that more research is being funded, we are starting to get more relevant data.
One clue of how underfunded sea exploration has been is that the last such map of the sea floor is more than thirty years old. It was made in 1983, and current scientists are still forced to look at it for clues. Maybe if we would have had more maps, we wouldn’t be as amazed now.
The current map, gathers about 14,399 samples of marine sediment. These have been classified into 80 categories, and then arranged by location so as to create the digital map. The major classes of sediment are as follows (hold tight): sand, gravel, clay, silt, four types of ooze: calcareous, radiolarian, diatom, and siliceous; also, shells, fragments of corals, fine grained calcareous sediments, volcaniclastics, sponge spicules, and siliceous mud. That’s a lot.
The paradigm changing discoveries show that there is a lot more clay in the ocean, that rocks do not necessarily form from ancient organism remains, that there is 30% more of calcareous ooze, 25% less diatom, and 60% less radiolarian.
The scientists concur that, in the end, Nature is far more complex than people want her to be.
Image source: softpedia-static.com