Oceanography In the News ...





The oceans were once colder than previously believed   PhysOrg - October 26, 2017
According to the methodology widely used by the scientific community, the temperature of the ocean depths 100 million years ago was around 15 degrees higher than current readings. This approach, however, is now being challenged: ocean temperatures may in fact have remained relatively stable throughout this period, which raises serious concerns about current levels of climate change.




Global oceanic dead zones persisted for 50,000 years after end-Triassic extinction event
Extremely low oxygen levels in Earth's oceans could be responsible for extending the effects of a mass extinction that wiped out millions of species on Earth around 200 million years ago, according to a new study. By measuring trace levels of uranium in oceanic limestone that correspond to oxygen levels in seawater present during the rock's formation, the new study finds areas of the seafloor without oxygen increased by a factor of 100 during the end-Triassic extinction event. It took about 50,000 years for ocean oxygen levels to return to what they were before the extinction event and it may have taken as long as 250,000 years for coral reefs around the globe to fully recover, according to the study.




As oceans alkalized, life developed bones and shells
A critical feature of many multicellular lifeforms on Earth are hard, biological structures, such as animal bones and snail shells that are made from minerals. Tiny fossils recently discovered in Canada have pushed back the oldest known evidence of "bio-mineralization" to 810 million years ago. The finding could yield insights into locating fossils on other planets and shed light on the ways in which lifeforms and their planets develop together over time.




Stunning 'iceberg doodles' reveal how glaciers have transformed the ocean floor at Earth's poles   Daily Mail - April 25, 2017

The Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms has been compiled by an international team of over 250 marine geologists and glaciologists over the last four years. The atlas charts the seafloor of both Polar Regions, and could allow researchers to interpret the history of Earth's large ice sheets, and the effect of environmental changes on the continents. An area the size of the UK is included in the book, showcasing a range of geological phenomena, including iceberg doodles and glacial lineations ridges up to 10 kilometres long moulded on the beds of glaciers. More than 35 individual landforms feature, ranging from dramatic features in the East Siberian permafrost to trough-mouth fans - enormous sediment deposits that build up at the mouths of the largest glaciers.




62-Foot Wave Off Iceland Smashes World Record   Live Science - December 26, 2016
A monstrous swell in the North Atlantic that rose up as high as a six-story building is now the world's tallest wave measured by a buoy, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The wave crashed down the morning of Feb. 4, 2013, in the watery expanse between Iceland and the United Kingdom, at approximately 59 degrees N, 11 degrees W. It occurred after a strong cold front passed through the area, producing winds of up to 50.4 mph (43.8 knots), the WMO reported. The North Atlantic is a prime setting for smashing big-wave records. The previous buoy-measured record of 59.96 feet (18.275 m) also occurred in the North Atlantic, on Dec. 8, 2007, as did the tallest wave measured from a ship - a 95.03-foot-tall (29.05 m) swell on Feb. 8, 2000, the organization said.




Atlantic wave biggest ever recorded   BBC - December 14, 2016

The highest-ever wave of 19 metres (62.3ft) has been recorded in the North Atlantic. An automated buoy recorded the wave in the ocean between Iceland and the United Kingdom, the World Meteorological Organization said. It was created in the aftermath of a very strong cold front with 43.8 knot (50.4mph) winds on 4 February 2013. The WMO, which released the data, said the previous record was 18.275 metres (59.96ft) in December 2007. That wave was also in the North Atlantic.




How far did ancient sea level rise?   PhysOrg - November 2, 2016

Figuring out how far sea level rose during past warm periods in Earth's history starts with a walk on the beach, a keen eye for evidence of ancient shorelines, and a highly accurate GPS system. The math isn't as simple as subtracting the distance from the old shoreline to the water's edge, though. As massive ice sheets retreated during past ice ages, their weight on the land below lifted and the land rebounded. On longer time scales, circulation within the Earth's mantle has changed the shape and height of the crust, as well. In Western Australia researchers spent weeks walking the coast with heavy packs this summer, documenting the height and location of old shorelines and chipping off samples to take back to the lab.




Life in ancient oceans enabled by erosion from land   PhysOrg - September 26, 2016

As scientists continue finding evidence for life in the ocean more than 3 billion years ago, those ancient fossils pose a paradox. Organisms, including the single-celled bacteria living in the ocean at that early date, need a steady supply of phosphorus, but "it's very hard to account for this phosphorus unless it is eroding from the continents. So that makes it really hard to explain the fossils we see at this early era.




Massive 'Lava Lamp' Blobs Deep Inside Earth Have Scientists Puzzled   Live Science - July 5, 2016

Two continent-size blobs of hot - and possibly molten - rock can be found deep underground, about halfway to the center of the Earth, according to a new study. These curious structures - each of which is so large that it would be 100 times taller than Mount Everest - could be made up of materials that may shed light on how the Earth formed, the researchers said. One of the blobs is located beneath the Pacific Ocean, and the other can be found beneath the Atlantic. These underground structures start where the Earth's mantle meets the core, but they send "plumes" up through the rock like a Lava Lamp, the researchers said. Scientists now think these masses differ from the surrounding rock in more than just temperature. They're also "compositionally distinct," meaning they could contain materials not typically found in the rest of the Earth's mantle. Yet even some of the most basic information about the blobs is still a mystery.




Caribbean Sea's Curious 'Whistle' Detected from Space   Science Daily - June 24, 2016
The murmur of lapping ocean waves and the crash of breaking surf are familiar to any beachgoer. But scientists recently discovered a remarkable ocean sound unlike any other, produced by a unique combination of water movement and underwater geography in the Caribbean Sea. While the sound is at a frequency inaudible to human ears about 28 octaves below the lowest note on a piano, according to the researchers it can be detected in space, from the disruptions it causes in Earth's gravity field. Bounded by South America, Central America and the Caribbean islands, the semi-enclosed basin of the Caribbean Sea acts like the body of a giant whistle, the scientists wrote in the study. And what produces the sound is a recurring but very slow-moving and low-amplitude wave pattern that travels the length of the sea in a 120-day cycle.




Ocean temps predict US heat waves 50 days out   Science Daily - March 29, 2016

The formation of a distinct pattern of sea surface temperatures in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean can predict an increased chance of summertime heat waves in the eastern half of the United States up to 50 days in advance. The pattern is a contrast of warmer-than-average water butting up against cooler-than-average seas. When it appears, the odds that extreme heat will strike during a particular week--or even on a particular day--can more than triple, depending on how well-formed the pattern is.




Revealed - the single event that made complex life possible in our oceans   PhysOrg - December 1, 2015

The catalyst that allowed the evolution of complex life in Earth's oceans has been identified by a University of Bristol researcher. Up to 800 million years ago, the Earth's oceans were deprived of oxygen. It was only when microorganisms called phytoplankton, capable of performing photosynthesis, colonized the oceans - covering two thirds of our planet - that production of oxygen at a massive scale was made possible.




  Cold Atlantic 'blob' puzzles scientists   CNN - September 30, 2015
At first glance, it stands out like a sore thumb. That blob of blue and purple on the map. One of the only places on the globe that is abnormally cold in a year that will likely shatter records as the warmest globally. It's being called the Atlantic "blob." It's a large area in the North Atlantic that is seeing a pronounced cooling trend. The ocean surface is much cooler than normal and in fact record cold in some locations. Scientists began to notice it developing over the last couple of years, this cooling in the Atlantic is the complete opposite of the warming over in the Pacific. Much of the warming is attributed to El Nino, a natural process where warm water sloshes over the Central Pacific and extends to South America, but scientists are unable to completely explain what has been dubbed the Pacific Blob. This pronounced warming over large areas of the entire Pacific basin has fueled a well above average season for hurricanes and typhoons over the entire Pacific, and could have contributed to everything from the California drought, impacts on the salmon industry, and even tropical sharks seen in waters further north than ever before.




Should we fear the North Atlantic Blob? Climate scientists warn record cold in ocean may be a sign of changes to ocean currents   Daily Mail - September 30, 2015
The planet is on course to experience one of its warmest years on record, but scientists have been left baffled by a massive cold patch in the North Atlantic Ocean. The area, which lies just to the south of Greenland and Iceland, is showing some of the coldest temperatures ever recorded for the region. It comes at a time large parts of the world are experiencing some of the hottest on record, raising fears the recent 'pause' in global warming has come to an end.




Repeated marine predator evolution tracks changes in ancient and Anthropocene oceans   Science Daily - April 16, 2015
Scientists synthesized decades of scientific discoveries to illuminate the common and unique patterns driving the extraordinary transitions that whales, dolphins, seals and other species underwent as they moved from land to sea. Drawing on recent breakthroughs in diverse fields such as paleontology, molecular biology and conservation ecology, their findings offer a comprehensive look at how life in the ocean has responded to environmental change from the Triassic to the Anthropocene.




Greatest mass extinction driven by acidic oceans, study finds   Live Science - April 10, 2015
The event, which took place 252 million years ago, wiped out more than 90 per cent of marine species and more than two-thirds of the animals living on land. It happened when Earth's oceans absorbed huge amounts of carbon dioxide from volcanic eruptions, researchers say.




Oxygen-depleted toxic oceans had key role in mass extinction over 200 million years ago   Science Daily - April 1, 2015

Changes in the biochemical balance of the ocean were a crucial factor in the end-Triassic mass extinction, during which half of all plant, animal and marine life on Earth perished, according to new research. The study, published in the upcoming edition of Geology, reveals that a condition called 'marine photic zone euxinia' took place in the Panathalassic Ocean - the larger of the two oceans surrounding the supercontinent of Pangaea. Photic zone euxinia occurs when the sun-lit surface waters of the ocean become devoid of oxygen and are poisoned by hydrogen sulphide -- a by-product of microorganisms that live without oxygen that is extremely toxic to most other lifeforms. The international team of researchers studied fossilized organic molecules extracted from sedimentary rocks that originally accumulated on the bottom of the north-eastern Panthalassic Ocean, but are now exposed on the Queen Charlotte Islands, off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.




Rosetta Pours Cold Water on Cometary Origins of Earth's Oceans   Scientific American - December 10, 2014
In the Enuma Elish, a Babylonian epic that recounts the creation of the world, the heavens and the Earth emerge from a primordial abyss of brackish water. According to the biblical book of Genesis, water existed before land, life, and even light itself. Our ancient ancestors realized, just as we do today, that water is fundamental to life. But even though they could conceive creation stories for the Earth, moon, and stars, many cultures at the dawn of recorded history seemed baffled by the origin of our planet's water. Thousands of years later, the genesis of Earth's oceans remains one of the key missing pieces in our modern creation stories.




Mystery of where Earth's water came from deepens   PhysOrg - December 10, 2014
The mystery of where Earth's water came from got murkier Wednesday when some astronomers essentially eliminated one of the chief suspects: comets. Over the past few months, the European Space Agency's Rosetta space probe closely examined the type of comet that some scientists theorized could have brought water to our planet 4 billion years ago. It found water, but the wrong kind




Breakup of ancient supercontinent Pangea hints at future fate of Atlantic Ocean   PhysOrg - December 1, 2014

Breakup of ancient supercontinent Pangea hints at future fate of Atlantic Ocean ... Pangea, the supercontinent that contained most of the Earth's landmass until about 180 million years ago, endured an apocalyptic undoing during the Jurassic period, when the Atlantic Ocean opened up. This is well understood. But what is less clear is how Pangea came into being in the first place.




Subducting oceanic plates are thinning adjacent continents   PhysOrg - November 14, 2014
The continental margins of plates on either side of the Atlantic Ocean are thinner than expected, and an international team led by a Rice University scientist is using an array of advanced tools to understand why. According to Alan Levander, lead author of a new paper in Nature and the Carey Croneis Professor of Earth Science at Rice, the viscous bottom layers of the continental shelves beneath the Gibraltar arc and northeastern South America are literally being pulled off by adjacent subducting oceanic plates.




Warmest oceans ever recorded   PhysOrg - November 14, 2014
This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Nino year. From 2000-2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.




Satellites detect 'thousands' of new ocean-bottom mountains   BBC - October 3, 2014
It is not every day you can announce the discovery of thousands of new mountains on Earth, but that is what a US-European research team has done. What is more, these peaks are all at least 1.5km high. The reason they have gone unrecognized until now is because they are at the bottom of the ocean. The roughness of the seafloor is important also as it steers currents and promotes mixing - behaviors that are critical to understanding how the oceans transport heat and influence the climate.




Harnessing the Energy of Ocean Currents   Live Science - August 5, 2014
A group of scientists and engineers wants to build giant, underwater turbines, which they think could provide a source of limitless clean energy. The Crowd Energy project grew out of a desire to find a source of limitless clean energy, as an alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear energy.




The energetic origins of life   PhysOrg - June 13, 2014

Imagination is perhaps the most powerful tool we have for creating the future. The same might be said when it comes to creating the past, especially as it pertains to origin of life. Under what conditions did the energetic processes of life first evolve? That question is the subject of a remarkable perspective piece just published in Science. Authors William Martin, Filipa Sousa, and Nick Lane come to the startling conclusion that the energy-harvesting system in ancient microbes can best be understood if it is viewed a microcosm of the larger-scale geochemical processes of the day. In particular, they imagine a process by which natural ion gradients in alkaline hydrothermal vents, much like the "Lost City" ecosystem still active in the mid-Atlantic today, ignited the ongoing chemical reaction of life.




New evidence for oceans of water deep in the Earth   PhysOrg - June 13, 2014
Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of New Mexico report evidence for potentially oceans worth of water deep beneath the United States. Though not in the familiar liquid form the ingredients for water are bound up in rock deep in the Earth's mantle - the discovery may represent the planet's largest water reservoir.




Vast Freshwater Reserves Found Beneath the Oceans   Science Daily - December 8, 2013
Scientists have discovered huge reserves of freshwater beneath the oceans kilometres out to sea, providing new opportunities to stave off a looming global water crisis. A new study, published December 5 in the international scientific journal Nature, reveals that an estimated half a million cubic kilometres of low-salinity water are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world. The water, which could perhaps be used to eke out supplies to the world's burgeoning coastal cities, has been located off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.




Ocean and climate: The new theory   PhysOrg - October 14, 2013

Is this the end of a scientific paradigm on the effects of climate change? It would seem that global warming is not intensifying the rise of cold deep water, a phenomenon known as upwelling, characteristic of certain coastal zones. For over twenty years, specialists have believed that climate change is reinforcing the trade winds at the origin of these phenomena, thereby cooling the surface water. A new study, led by a team from the IRD and its partners, off the coast of West Africa, has shown that this is not the case for the ecosystem of the Canary Current. On the contrary, it reveals that the coastal waters from Morocco to Senegal have been getting warmer for the past 40 years.




Newly Discovered Ocean Plume Could Be Major Source of Iron   Science Daily - August 20, 2013
Scientists have discovered a vast plume of iron and other micronutrients more than 1,000 km long billowing from hydrothermal vents in the South Atlantic Ocean. The finding, soon to be published in the journal Nature Geoscience, calls past estimates of iron abundances into question, and may challenge researchers' assumptions about iron sources in the world's seas. Iron is a critical element for ocean life. Iron is known to spur the growth of phytoplankton in many marine habitats, especially those important in the ocean's carbon cycle, which, in turn, impacts atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and Earth's climate. Because more than half the world's seafloor ridges are slow-spreading, the team's discovery suggests there may be far more iron from these locations than previously estimated.




Huge 'Dead Zone' Predicted in Gulf of Mexico   Live Science - June 19, 2013
A very large dead zone, an area of water with no or very little oxygen, is expected to form in the Gulf of Mexico this year - a trend in recent years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Meanwhile, models predict the dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay will be smaller than usual. The makings of a dead zone begin with nutrient pollution, primarily fertilizers and agricultural runoff. Once these excess nutrients reach the ocean, they fuel algae blooms. The algae then die and decompose in a process that consumes oxygen and creates lifeless areas where fish and other aquatic creatures can't survive. This zone can have serious impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries on the Gulf Coast.




Earth's interior cycles contributor to long-term sea-level and climate change, scientists conclude   PhysOrg - March 18, 2013
Ancient rises in sea levels and global warming are partially attributable to cyclical activity below the earth's surface. Changes spurred by the earth's interior are gradual, taking place in periods ranging from 60 million to 140 million years - far less rapidly than those brought on by human activity.




Microfossils Reveal Secrets of Ancient Ocean Changes   Live Science - November 8, 2012

No matter how many times you've been in the ocean, you've probably never noticed foraminifera. But "forams," as scientists call these microscopic organisms for short, are everywhere - from the water surface to the seafloor, all around the world. They've been here since before the time of the dinosaurs, and now they're revealing vital information about the history of the world we live in. Here's how: As forams grow, their tiny shells record the chemical and physical conditions of the ocean, which are tightly linked to those of the atmosphere. When they die, they collect on the seafloor, where settling sediment and other dead organisms eventually bury them. Some forams are preserved as microfossils. Over hundreds of millions of years, these microfossils have stacked up on the seafloor to form an incredible natural archive of ocean and climate data.




Oceans' deepest depth re-measured   BBC - December 7, 2011

US scientists have mapped the deepest part of the world's oceans in greater detail than ever before. The Mariana Trench in the western Pacific runs for about 2,500km and extends down to 10,994m. This measurement for the deepest point - known as Challenger Deep - is arguably the most precise yet. The survey, conducted by the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM), was completed to help determine the exact extent of US waters in the region.




  Undersea mountains march into the abyss   BBC - December 6, 2011

Startling new images from the depths of the Pacific Ocean reveal one of Earth's most violent processes: the destruction of massive underwater mountains. The pictures were created by sonar in waters up to 6km (4mi) deep. They expose how tectonic action is dragging giant volcanoes into a chasm in the seabed. The volcanoes are strung across several thousand kilometres of ocean floor and are moving westward on the Pacific tectonic plate at up to 6cm per year. The extraordinary scene was captured along the Tonga Trench during a research expedition last summer.




Japan Quake Lifted Seabed 16 Stories - Largest Recorded   National Geographic - December 1, 2011
Japan's devastating March 11 earthquake shifted the seabed by as much as 165 feet (50 meters) - the largest slip yet recorded, a new study says. That's considerably larger than in previous reports, which in May put the shift at 79 feet (24 meters).




New technique unlocks secrets of ancient ocean   PhysOrg - October 11, 2011
Earth's largest mass extinction event, the end-Permian mass extinction, occurred some 252 million years ago. An estimated 90 percent of Earth's marine life was eradicated. To better understand the cause of this "mother of all mass extinctions," researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Cincinnati used a new geochemical technique. The team measured uranium isotopes in ancient carbonate rocks and found that a large, rapid shift in the chemistry of the world's ancient oceans occurred around the extinction event.




Evidence for a persistently iron-rich ocean changes views on Earth's early history   PhysOrg - September 8, 2011
Over the last half a billion years, the ocean has mostly been full of oxygen and teeming with animal life. But earlier, before animals had evolved, oxygen was harder to come by. Now a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Riverside reveals that the ancient deep ocean was not only devoid of oxygen but also rich in iron, a key biological n




Oxygen's challenge to early life   PhysOrg - January 5, 2011
The conventional view of the history of the Earth is that the oceans became oxygen-rich to approximately the degree they are today in the Late Ediacaran Period (about 600 million years ago) after staying relatively oxygen-poor for the preceding four billion years. But biogeochemists at the University of California, Riverside have found evidence that shows that the ocean went back to being "anoxic" or oxygen-poor around 499 million years ago, soon after the first appearance of animals on the planet, and remained anoxic for 2-4 million years. What's more, the researchers suggest that such anoxic conditions may have been commonplace over a much broader interval of time, with their data capturing a particularly good example.




Mystery of Ancient Extinction in Earth's Oceans Revealed   Live Science - January 4, 2011
About 375 million years ago, the diversity of species in the Earth's oceans plummeted - not because more species were going extinct, but because fewer new groups of organisms were forming. A new study identifies a culprit: invasive species. The crisis of the Late Devonian Period is typically considered to be one of the "Big Five" mass extinctions; however, this terminology is inaccurate, according to Alycia Stigall, the study researcher and an associate professor of geology at Ohio University.




Undersea river discovered flowing on sea bed   Telegraph.co.uk - August 1, 2010

Massive underwater rivers that flow along the bottom of the oceans have been discovered by scientists.
If found on land, scientists estimate it would be the world's sixth largest river in terms of the amount of water flowing through it.




Warming of Oceans Will Reduce and Rearrange Marine Life   Wired - July 28, 2010
The warmth of the ocean is the critical factor that determines how much productivity and biodiversity there is in the ocean, and where. In two separate studies, researchers found that warming oceans have led to a massive decline in the amount of plant life in the sea over the last century, and that temperature is tightly linked to global patterns of marine biodiversity.




Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm   BBC - July 28, 2010
The amount of phytoplankton - tiny marine plants - in the top layers of the oceans has declined markedly over the last century, research suggests. Ssay the decline appears to be linked to rising water temperatures. They made their finding by looking at records of the transparency of sea water, which is affected by the plants. The decline - about 1% per year - could be ecologically significant as plankton sit at the base of marine food chains




Marine Biodiversity Strongly Linked to Ocean Temperature   Science Daily - July 29, 2010
In an unprecedented effort that will be published online on the 28th of July by the international journal Nature, a team of scientists mapped and analyzed global biodiversity patterns for over 11,000 marine species ranging from tiny zooplankton to sharks and whales. The researchers found striking similarities among the distribution patterns, with temperature strongly linked to biodiversity for all thirteen groups studied. These results imply that future changes in ocean temperature, such as those due to climate change, may greatly affect the distribution of life in the sea.




Oceans' deteriorating health nearing 'irreversible'   PhysOrg - July 5, 2010
A sobering new report warns that oceans face a "fundamental and irreversible ecological transformation" not seen in millions of years as greenhouse gases and climate change already have affected temperature, acidity, sea and oxygen levels, the food chain and possibly major currents that could alter global weather.




New insights into volcanic activity on the ocean floor   PhysOrg - June 16, 2010

New research reveals that when two parts of the Earth's crust break apart, this does not always cause massive volcanic eruptions. The study, published today in the journal Nature, explains why some parts of the world saw massive volcanic eruptions millions of years ago and others did not.

Amazing 2010 Ocean Photography   NBC - June 7, 2010
View 28 Photos




Study Calculates Volume and Depth of the World's Oceans   PhysOrg - May 20, 2010
ow high is the sky? Scientists have a pretty good handle on that one, what with their knowledge of the troposphere, stratosphere an the other "o-spheres." Now, thanks to new work headed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), they are closing in on the other half of that age-old query: How deep is the ocean?




Scientists link ocean acidification to prehistoric mass extinction   PhysOrg - April 28, 2010
New evidence gleaned by analyzing calcium embedded in Chinese limestone suggests that volcanoes, which spewed massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for a million years, caused the biggest mass extinction on Earth.




The Bloop: A Mysterious Sound from the Deep Ocean   NASA - April 27, 2010

What created this strange sound in Earth's Pacific Ocean? Pictured above is a visual representation of a loud and unusual sound, dubbed a Bloop, captured by deep sea microphones in 1997. In the above graph, time is shown on the horizontal axis, deep pitch is shown on the vertical axis, and brightness designates loudness. Although Bloops are some of the loudest sounds of any type ever recorded in Earth's oceans, their origin remains unknown. The Bloop sound was placed as occurring several times off the southern coast of South America and was audible 5,000 kilometers away. Although the sound has similarities to those vocalized by living organisms, not even a blue whale is large enough to croon this loud. The sounds point to the intriguing hypothesis that even larger life forms lurk in the unexplored darkness of Earth's deep oceans. A less imagination-inspiring possibility, however, is that the sounds resulted from some sort of iceberg calving. No further Bloops have been heard since 1997, although other loud and unexplained sounds have been recorded.




Huge Asphalt Volcanoes Discovered Off California   National Geographic - April 27, 2010

Massive Asphalt Volcanoes Discovered on Seafloor   Live Science - April 26, 2010
Hidden in the murky depths of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, a series of asphalt volcanoes rise from the seafloor. The underwater domes are like giant parking lots, teeming with life and belching methane. The asphalt was spewed into the sea 40,000 years ago and hardened, scientists explained today. The domes are located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the Santa Barbara coastline of California, at the bottom of the Santa Barbara Channel.




Massive Southern Ocean current discovered   PhysOrg - April 26, 2010
A deep ocean current with a volume equivalent to 40 Amazon Rivers has been discovered by Japanese and Australian scientists near the Kerguelen plateau, in the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean, 4,200 kilometres south-west of Perth.




Scientists Explore Origins of 'Supervolcanoes' on the Sea Floor   PhysOrg - April 10, 2010
"Supervolcanoes" have been blamed for multiple mass extinctions in Earth's history, but the cause of their massive eruptions is unknown.




Ancient Supervolcano Created Giant Underwater Mountain Chain   Live Science - April 10, 2010
Roughly a dozen supervolcanoes currently exist. Some are on land, while others lie at the bottom of the ocean. Each has produced several million cubic miles of lava - about three hundred times the volume of all the Great Lakes combined - dwarfing the amount of lava produced by the Hawaiian volcanoes or the Icelandic volcano that erupted recently.




The sea level has been rising and falling over the last 2,500 years   PhysOrg - January 26, 2010
Rising and falling sea levels over relatively short periods do not indicate long-term trends. An assessment of hundreds and thousands of years shows that what seems an irregular phenomenon today is in fact nothing new.




Geoscientists Drill Deepest Hole in Ocean Crust in Scientific Ocean Drilling History   PhysOrg - January 25, 2010
For eight weeks beginning in November 2009, off the coast of New Zealand, an international team of 34 scientists and 92 support staff and crew on board the scientific drilling vessel JOIDES Resolution (JR) were at work investigating sea-level change in a region called the Canterbury Basin. It proved to be a record-breaking trip for the research team.




Study on land plant fossils shows Paleoasian Ocean disappeared about 251 million years ago   PhysOrg - December 8, 2009
A latest discovery of land plant fossils from Heilongjiang, Northeast China shows that the Siberian Plate sutured with the North China Plate at the end of the Permian, and resulted in the final closure of the Paleoasian Ocean (an ocean existed for hundreds of million years in earth history).




Glimpse at Earth's Crust Deep Below Atlantic Ocean   Science Daily - December 1, 2009
Long-term variations in volcanism help explain the birth, evolution and death of striking geological features called oceanic core complexes on the ocean floor, says geologist Dr Bram Murton of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. Oceanic core complexes are associated with faults along slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. They are large elevated massifs with flat or gently curved upper surfaces and prominent corrugations called 'megamullions'. Uplifting during their formation causes exposure of lower crust and mantle rocks on the seafloor. Murton was member of a scientific team that in 2007 sailed to the mid Atlantic Ridge aboard the royal research ship RRS James Cook to study the Earth's crust below the ocean.




  Earth's early ocean cooled more than a billion years earlier than thought   PhysOrg - November 11, 2009




Giant Crack in Africa Will Create a New Ocean   Live Science - November 3, 2009

The rift in Afar, Ethiopia, that researchers say will eventually become a new ocean.
African Desert Rift Confirmed As New Ocean In The Making   Science Daily - November 3, 2009




New Wrinkle In Ancient Ocean Chemistry   Science Daily - October 30, 2009
Scientists widely accept that around 2.4 billion years ago, the Earth's atmosphere underwent a dramatic change when oxygen levels rose sharply. Called the "Great Oxidation Event" (GOE), the oxygen spike marks an important milestone in Earth's history, the transformation from an oxygen-poor atmosphere to an oxygen-rich one paving the way for complex life to develop on the planet.




Ancient ocean chemistry: Effects of biological oxygen production 100 million years before it accumulated in atmosphere   PhysOrg - October 29, 2009
Scientists widely accept that around 2.4 billion years ago, the Earth's atmosphere underwent a dramatic change when oxygen levels rose sharply. Called the "Great Oxidation Event" (GOE), the oxygen spike marks an important milestone in Earth's history, the transformation from an oxygen-poor atmosphere to an oxygen-rich one paving the way for complex life to develop on the planet.




Sea Art Created by Natural Bloom   Live Science - October 28, 2009
Off the east coast of New Zealand, cold rivers of water that have branched off from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flow north past South Island and converge with warmer waters flowing south past North Island. The surface waters of this meeting place are New Zealand's most biologically productive. A new NASA image, taken Oct. 25 from the Aqua satellite, shows the basis for that productivity: large blooms of plantlike organisms called phytoplankton.




Genetic sex determination let ancient species adapt to ocean life   PhysOrg - September 16, 2009
A new analysis of extinct sea creatures suggests that the transition from egg-laying to live-born young opened up evolutionary pathways that allowed these ancient species to adapt to and thrive in open oceans.




Life existed in the oceans 200 million years before oxygen appeared on Earth   Telegraph.co.uk - September 14, 2009
Life evolved at least 200 million years before oxygen began to build up in the atmosphere, a study has shown. During this period in its history, known as the Archaean, the Earth was covered by a poisonous smog of methane, ammonia and other toxic gases. Similar conditions exist today on Saturn's moon Titan. Life as we know it today could not have survived on the early Earth. The new study involved an analysis of ancient preserved seabed rocks from South Africa dating back two to three billion years.




Sea Levels Rose Two Feet This Summer in U.S. East   National Geographic - September 10, 2009
The immediate cause of the unexpected rise has now been solved, U.S. officials say in a new report (hint: it wasn't global warming). But the underlying reason remains a mystery. Usually, predicting seasonal tides and sea levels is a pretty cut-and-dried process, governed by the known movements and gravitational influences of astronomical bodies like the moon, said Rich Edwing, deputy director for the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).




Changes in net flow of ocean heat correlate with past climate anomalies   PhysOrg - August 14, 2009
at the University of Rochester have combed through data from satellites and ocean buoys and found evidence that in the last 50 years, the net flow of heat into and out of the oceans has changed direction three times.




"Drained" Oceans Reveal Epic Landscapes   National Geographic - August 10, 2009
The seas off the Bahamas can seem like a swimming pool, but strip away the ocean, and the edges of the islands' shallow Great Bahama Bank--where the light blue begins to turn dark in satellite images of the Caribbean--are revealed to be steep cliffs rising some 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) above a vast plain. By comparison, Yosemite National Park's nearly 5,000-foot-tall (1,520-meter) Half Dome (bottom) is a molehill. For much of the seafloor, accurate computer images like the one at top are only now becoming possible.




Comet Swarm Delivered Earth's Oceans?   National Geographic - August 5, 2009
A barrage of comets may have delivered Earth's oceans around 3.85 billion years ago, a new study suggests. Scientists have long suspected that Earth and its near neighbors were walloped by tens of thousands of impactors during an ancient event known as the Late Heavy Bombardment.




The Most Lifeless Place in the Ocean Found   Live Science - June 23, 2009
Scientists have discovered what may be the least inhabited place in the ocean. The seafloor sediments in the middle of the South Pacific have fewer living cells than anywhere else measured, a new study found. Oceanographer Steven D'Hondt of the University of Rhode Island and colleagues took a boat out to the middle of the ocean and collected cores, or cylindrical samples of sediment, from the bottom of the sea about 2.5 to 3.7 miles (4 to 6 km) deep. They found about 1,000 living cells in each cubic centimeter of sediment - a tally that is roughly 1,000 times less than in other seafloor sediments.




Odd, Identical Species Found at Both Poles National Geographic - February 15, 2009




Ice oceans 'are not poles apart' BBC - February 15, 2009
At least 235 marine species are living in both polar regions, despite being 12,000km apart, a census has found.




Found: The hottest water on Earth New Scientist - August 4, 2008
At over 3 kilometres beneath the surface, sitting atop what could be a huge bubble of magma, it's the hottest water ever found on Earth. The fluid is in a "supercritical" state that has never before been seen in nature. The fluid spews out of two black smokers called Two Boats and Sisters Peak.




Secret to Towering Rogue Waves Revealed Live Science - August 4, 2008
Deadly rogue waves 100 feet tall or higher could suddenly rise seemingly out of nowhere from the ocean, research now reveals. Understanding how such monstrous waves form could lead to ways to predict when they might emerge or, potentially, even drive them at enemy vessels, scientists added.




   Changing Earth: How Dead Zones Form Live Science - July 14, 2008




Rocks under the northern ocean are found to resemble ones far south PhysOrg - April 30, 2008
The western portion of the Gakkel Ridge has been found to contain a geochemical signature until now known mainly from the Indian Ocean.




Scientists discover new ocean current PhysOrg - April 30, 2008
Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered a new climate pattern called the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation. This new pattern explains, for the first time, changes in the water that are important in helping commercial fishermen understand fluctuations in the fish stock.




   Australia: Undersea "Wind Farms" Tested National Geographic - May 2, 2008




Ocean Dead Zones Growing; May Be Linked to Warming National Geographic - May 2, 2008
The world's hypoxic zones swaths of ocean too oxygen-deprived to support fish and other marine organisms are rapidly expanding as sea temperatures rise, a new study suggests.




Lost city could have been cradle of life Telegraph.co.uk - February 6, 2008

The towering structures of the Lost City are nearly pure carbonate, the same material as limestone in caves. A lost city at the bottom of the ocean contains chemical traces that suggests it could have been the cradle of life on Earth. Some believe the right ingredients for life made their way from outer space. Darwin thought it emerged in a "warm little pond" and others have looked for answers on the sea floor. Now evidence to back the latter submarine idea has emerged from the "Lost City" which lies at a depth of 2,600 feet, where creamy white to grey spires, pinnacles and 18 story chimneys teem with microscopic marine life, as a volcanic system on the Atlantic sea floor that gradually pushes America and Britain apart. The temperature and composition of fluids from a group of underwater hot springs there that are heated by the slow cooling of the underlying rocks, called a hydrothermal vent field, are similar to those predicted to have occurred during the early years of life on Earth.

The Lost City hydrothermal vent field is about 2,300 miles east of Florida, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Microorganisms there thrive in alkaline vent fluids, some nearly as caustic as liquid drain cleaner. This contrasts to the previously studied black-smoker vents where organisms have adjusted to acidic water. Lost City microbes dine on methane and hydrogen instead of the carbon dioxide that is the key energy source for life at black-smoker vents. The towering structures of the Lost City are nearly pure carbonate, the same material as limestone in caves. The structures drape the cliffs at Lost City and range from the size of tiny toadstools to the 18-story column, named Poseidon, that dwarfs most known black smoker vents by at least 100 feet. The field was named Lost City in part because it is on top of a submerged mountain named Atlantis and was discovered by chance during an expedition on board the research vessel Atlantis.




Seismologists discover complex structure in Tonga mantle wedge PhysOrg - April 13, 2007

The subduction zones where oceanic plates sink beneath the continents produce volcanic arcs such as those that make up the rim of fire around the Pacific Ocean. The volcanoes are fed by molten rock rising within a wedge of the Earth's mantle above ...




Oldest Known Ocean Crust Found on Greenland National Geographic - March 26, 2007

Scientists have discovered a 3.8-billion-year-old rock formation in Greenland that they say is the earliest example of oceanic crust ever to be discovered.




Sea floor records ancient Earth BBC - March 26, 2007

A sliver of four-billion-year-old sea floor has offered a glimpse into the inner workings of an adolescent Earth. The baked and twisted rocks, now part of Greenland, show the earliest evidence of plate tectonics, colossal movements of the planet's outer shell. Until now, researchers were unable to say when the process, which explains how oceans and continents form, began. Plate tectonics is a geological theory used to explain the observed large-scale motions of the Earth's surface.




Huge Underground "Ocean" Found Beneath Asia National Geographic - March 1, 2007




Scientists probe 'hole in Earth' in the mid-Atlantic BBC - March 1, 2007
The hole in the crust is midway between the Cape Verde Islands and the Caribbean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Mission to Study Earth's Gaping 'Open Wound' Live Science - March 1, 2007
A team of scientists will embark on a voyage next week to study an 'open wound' on the
Atlantic seafloor where the Earth's deep interior lies exposed without any crust covering.




'Nymph Of The Sea' Reveals Remarkable Brood Science Daily - November 24, 2006

Geologists have made an unusual discovery from over 425 million years ago ... hard boiled eggs!

Slab of sunken ocean floor found deep within Earth PhysOrg - May 17, 2006
Deep within Earth, halfway to its center in an area where Earth's core meets its mantle, lies a massive folded slab of rock that once was the ocean floor.




Fossil gives clue to big chill BBC - April 21, 2006
The gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific at the bottom of the globe opened up 41 million years ago, according to a study of old fish teeth.




'Milky seas' detected from space BBC - September 30, 2005
Mariners over the centuries have reported surreal, nocturnal displays of glowing sea surfaces stretching outwards to the horizon. Little is known about these "milky seas" other than that they are probably caused by luminous bacteria. But the first satellite detection of this strange phenomenon in the Indian Ocean may now aid future research. The observation is described by a US team in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The glowing sea covered an area of 15,400 sq km - about the size of the traditional English county of Yorkshire - and was observed over three consecutive nights, with the first night corroborated by a ship-based account.




Scientists Find Unusual Use of Metals in the Oceans PhysOrg - May 20, 2005

Cadmium, commonly considered a toxic metal and often used in combination with nickel in batteries, has been found to have a biological use as a nutrient in the ocean, the first known biological use of cadmium in any life form.




Researchers Drill Historic Hole In Atlantic Ocean Floor Science Daily - April 28, 2005
Researchers from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) have drilled into sections of the Earth's crust for the first time ever, and their findings could provide new insights about how Earth was formed.




Mystery Undersea Extinction Cycle Discovered National Geographic - March 9, 2005
The declines in the 62-million-year cycle correspond with some of the best known mass extinctions on Earth.




Life Is Found Thriving at Ocean's Deepest Point National Geographic - March 3, 2005
At the ocean's deepest point, the water pressure is the equivalent of having about 50 jumbo jets piled on top of you. Yet even here life thrives, according to scientists who have pulled a plug of dirt from the seafloor. The sample was taken from the Challenger Deep, which is nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers) deep. The soil was packed with a unique community of mostly soft-walled, singled-celled organisms that are thought to resemble some of the world's earliest life forms.




'Anti-plume' Found Off Pacific Coast Science Daily - July 15, 2004
The gradual subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate beneath the North American plate puts tremendous stress on the seafloor, creating cracks and fissures, hydrothermal vents, seafloor spreading, and literally hundreds of small earthquakes on a near-daily basis.




Unlocking the secrets of the sea BBC - March 19, 2004
State-of-the art underwater technology is helping researchers to unlock the secrets of the deep blue sea. The University of Ulster's Centre for Maritime Archaeology has acquired detection equipment which was once the preserve of navy personnel. The CMA's work at the university's Coleraine campus involves ancient shipwrecks and shifting sands. Archaeologists record details of the thousands of shipwrecks along the British and Irish coasts. The ultra modern equipment is aiding the process of recording the ships' location, state of preservation and to predict how long they will last, before the elements destroy them.




'Lost City' found on Atlantic floor - BBC - December 14, 2000

The white minerals mark a tower's active region. Vast towers of mineral deposits have been discovered in the middle of the Atlantic. They are in a new type of hydrothermal vent field. The "spires" were formed from deposits laid down by mineral-rich hot waters gushing up through rocks on the ocean floor. Researchers diving in the mini-sub Alvin were so astonished by the scale and beauty of the field they have dubbed it the Atlantic's "Lost City". These structures, which tower 55 m (180 ft) above the seafloor, are the largest hydrothermal chimneys of their kind ever observed.

The researchers say that the most surprising aspect of the new find is that the venting structures are composed of carbonate minerals and silica, unlike most other mid-ocean-ridge hot-spring deposits which are formed by iron and sulphur-based minerals. Also, other vents in the Atlantic have a rich population of shrimps and bacteria but they appear to be absent in this field.

The Lost City field was discovered unexpectedly while researchers were studying the geological and hydrothermal processes that built an unusually tall, 3,700-m (12,000-ft), underwater mountain. The region under investigation is 1,600 km (1,000 miles) south of the Azores. In the area, rocks called serpentinised peridotites, and rocks crystallised in under-seafloor magma chambers, have been uplifted from beneath the seafloor along large faults.




Hunt for Lost City of Atlantis   BBC - October 30, 2003

A team of experts believes it could be close to unravelling the millennia-old myth of the Lost City of Atlantis and is launching an expedition to the seas west of Gibraltar to test its theory. The team is led by eminent pre-historian Professor Jacques Collina-Girard, aided by the two men who led the expeditions to the Titanic. They believe that using a combination of literary pointers and geological evidence they have pinned the lost city's location to just west of the Straits of Gibraltar, on a submerged mud shoal now known as Spartel Island. The story of Atlantis, a fabled utopia destroyed in ancient times, has captured the imagination of scholars ever since it was first described by the philosopher Plato more than 2,000 years ago.





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