Mysterious Shadow Zone Traps The World’s Oldest Ocean Water

Posted: Nov 12 2017, 9:33am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Mysterious Shadow Zone Traps the World’s Oldest Ocean Water
Credit: Fabien Roquet and Casimir de Lavergne

Scientists solve the mystery of how oldest water in the North Pacific has remained trapped 2km below the sea surface

Deep inside the North Pacific lays the world’s oldest ocean water. The water has been trapped inside the region for over 1000 years and scientists have known for some time that the water exists here. But it is restricted to around 2km below the surface and the force that keeps the water from circulating back to the surface largely remained unknown.

Now, researchers have found that the world’s oldest water is trapped inside a shadow zone and this zone below the surface is caused by the shape of the ocean floor. That is why the water in this part of the ocean remains completely isolated and does not interact with the surroundings.

“Carbon-14 dating had already told us the most ancient water lied in the deep North Pacific. But until now we had struggled to understand why the very oldest waters huddle around the depth of 2km," said lead author Dr. Casimir de Lavergne from the University of New South Wales. "What we have found is that at around 2km below the surface of the Indian and Pacific Oceans there is a 'shadow zone' with barely any vertical movement that suspends ocean water in an area for centuries.”

The shadow zone is an area of water with no current or flow. It stretches about 6000 kilometers west to east, 2000 kilometers north to south and is located 2.5km below the ocean's surface. The shadow zone does not allow bottom water to cross this level and leaves the region directly above isolated.

The findings add a new piece to the puzzle of how water exists far below the ground and can offer more insight into the future climate change and the ecology of our major oceans.

Co-researcher Dr. Fabien Roquet from Stockholm University says. “When this isolated shadow zone traps millennia old ocean water it also traps nutrients and carbon which have a direct impact on the capacity of the ocean to modify climate over centennial time scales,"

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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