WHY IN NEWS ?
- A leak in the Pacific Ocean’s floor has scientists concerned it could fuel “the big one,” a magnitude-9.0 earthquake.
MORE ABOUT THE NEWS
- The discovery of a leak at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon has been making headlines in recent weeks.
- The cause and what it means may not be as dramatic or sinister as originally thought.
- University of Washington (UW) researchers released a paper in January that announced there was a leak about 50 miles off the Oregon Coast that was spewing mineral-rich liquid into the ocean.
- Its wonder whether this was a precursor to the long-foretold giant earthquake that would erupt from the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
- The seep has been named Pythia’s Oasis, after the Greek oracle.
ORIGIN OF LEAK:
- The leak was first identified in 2015 by the University of Washington.
- It is called Pythia’s Oasis after the Greek oracle it was found on top of the 600-mile-long Cascadia Subduction Zone fault.
- The researchers discovered the leak during a weather-related delay for a cruise when the ship’s sonar found unexpected bubbles beneath the ocean’s surface.
- It turns out the bubbles were just the tip of the iceberg as water was shooting out from the seafloor like a firehose.
- The researchers believe this is the first known leak of its kind in this ocean, though they believe it’s possible there are more nearby.
FORCES RESPONSIBLE FOR LEAK:
- The mineral-rich water escaping from Pythia’s Oasis is different from Hydrothermal (hot water) vents near undersea volcanoes and mid-ocean ridges that have been observed throughout the world.
- The Hydrothermal vents produce super-heated water that escapes thanks to the high temperature that forces the water upwards.
- The seeps at Pythia’s Oasis result from high pressure in the subduction zone where the Juan de Fuca Plate collides with the North American Plate and is pushed downwards.
- The significance of this is that the fluids that are contained within the earth’s crust and rocks play a fundamental role as a lubricant in allowing rocks that are under pressure to slide past each other.
SYLLABUS: PRELIMS, GEOGRAPHY
SOURCE: FORBES, FUTURISM