Scientists Find World’s Oldest Oceanic Crust In Mediterranean Sea

Posted: Aug 16 2016, 10:56am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 16 2016, 11:00am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Scientists Find World’s Oldest Oceanic Crust in Mediterranean Sea
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The oceanic crust in eastern Mediterranean is about 340 million years old and has been detected using magnetic sensing

The oldest piece of oceanic crust is lying inside Mediterranean Sea and is estimated to be 340 million years old.

Oceanic crust is the topmost solid layer found under the ocean which consists of basaltic rocks and sediments atop of them. In other words, oceanic crust is similar to the earth's crust but it is just located inside an ocean.

Researchers have identified this patch of oceanic crust using magnetic data which has been successfully used to detect the structures obscured by overlying materials. A large part of eastern Mediterranean from Herodotus to Levant Basins was mapped with magnetic sensing equipment to study the age and nature of the underlying crust in the region. It was found that rocks on Herodotus basin are marked by magnetic strips and these stripes hold a record of changes in Earth’s magnetic field, which can ultimately lead to the timeframe of the rock's formation.

“Changes in the magnetic field's orientation over time are recorded in the ocean floors, creating a unique barcode that provides a time stamp for crust formation. The results shed new light on the tectonic architecture and evolution of this region and have important implications on various geodynamic processes.” Dr. Roi Granot, a lecturer in the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev said.

Keeping this in mind, researchers analyzed the magnetic strips found in the Herodotus Basin and showed that the ocean crust in this area of ocean could be as much as 340 million years old. The area is covered with thick sediments. That is why its age could not been measure accurately before. The new technique has enabled researchers to better understand the geology of the area.

“The area is covered by thick sedimentary coverage, making it unclear precisely how old the crust is and whether it is even oceanic at all.” Granot said.

Most oceanic crust is less than 200 million years old, anything older has been dragged into the mantle by the movement of plate tectonics. The oceanic crust in the west Pacific and north-west Atlantic is around 180 to 200 million years old, which makes the eastern Mediterranean crust almost 140 million years older than both of these oceans. The crust is likely the remnant of ancient Tethys Ocean which existed during much of the Mesozoic Era before the formation of Indian and Atlantic Oceans. 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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