This is a guest post by John Hannen.
Exploring beneath the wave
Most of us know that the Earth is called the Blue Planet for a reason — 71 percent of it is covered by oceans! That’s a mind-boggling 321,003,271 cubic miles of water according to estimates NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center.
With so much of the world underwater, what is lurking below? Here, Tracerco, who specialize in subsea pipeline inspection, take a look.
There are more treasures and historical artifacts in the sea than in all the world’s museums combined. There is almost 20 million tons of gold within the Earth’s oceans too — if all which was suspended was mined, there would be enough to give each person on the planet around 9 pounds of gold. Up to $60 billion in sunken treasure is housed on the floors of Earth’s oceans as well.
There are also many natural treasures. Scientists predict that there could be as much as 50 quadrillion tons of dissolved solids found within the Earth’s oceans — calcium salts, magnesium salts, potassium salts, and sodium salts make up the bulk of this huge figure.
The ocean is, however, becoming increasingly overwhelmed with less-than-beautiful items. Every year sees an estimated 14 billion pounds of garbage dumped into the world’s oceans though, with most of this being harmful plastic.
The sea provides a number of vital trade and communication links. Over 90 percent of all trade between countries is carried by ships, while around half of communications between nations occur using underwater cables.
What life Is There?
For many, life in the ocean conjures the thought of fishes and sharks! But there are already hundreds of thousands of known marine life forms in the ocean, many of which are still to be discovered. Some scientists have suggested that the actual number could go into the millions. There are also around 4,000 species of coral reef fish found across the globe — that’s close to a quarter of all of the world’s marine fish species—though be aware that a milliliter of ocean water contains close to 1 million bacteria and 10 million viruses.
The Mariana Trench forms the deepest known part of the Earth. Located in the western Pacific Ocean and to the east of the Mariana Islands, the deepest point found here measures in at an estimated 11,000 meters — or 36,000 feet. The average depth of the Earth’s oceans is also 3,720 meters — or 12,200 feet.
The longest mountain range on the planet is also underwater. Named the Mid-Oceanic Ridge, this mountain chain stretches for more than 56,000km across and covers parts of the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, Earth’s highest mountain in the ocean is the Mauna Kea. Found off the coast of Hawaii, the mountain rises for 10,203 meters (33,474 feet) from the ocean floor, with 4,170 meters (13,680 feet) viewable above sea level.
There’s also the largest living structure on Earth. This is the Great Barrier Reef — it measures around 2,600 km and is so huge that it can be spotted from the Moon.
The marvels don’t end there either. On the ocean floor near to the Gulf of Mexico, brine pools can be found as can underwater volcanoes where mud and methane explode from them as opposed to lava. There’re also underwater hot springs found across the Earth’s oceans, where water with temperatures of 650 °F shoot out — that’s hot enough to melt lead.
Who knows what else we will find? According to National Geographic, we have so far only explored around five percent of the Earth’s oceans to date — that means that we have more detailed maps of Mars than we do of our planet’s ocean floor.
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