Friday, October 3, 2014

Video: Google Unveils Startling New Maps of Ocean Floors

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 9:12 AM

The most recent Google map explores regions where, for the most part, no man has gone before: our oceans' floors.

The journal Science details how data from NASA's Jason-1 and the European Space Agency's CroSat-2 satellites have revealed thousands of underwater mountains in the some of the planet's most remote regions. 

More than 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered by water and researchers indicate that nearly 90 percent of the ocean's floors have never been surveyed.

“The kinds of things you can see very clearly now are abyssal hills, which are the most common land form on the planet,” said David Sandwell, lead scientist on the paper and a geophysics professor at the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

The maps also improve depth estimates for approximately 80 percent of the oceans.

The maps also revealed scars, ridges and trenches, with one of the biggest surprises being a ridge that sits under the Gulf of Mexico. Its length is about as wide as Texas. Scientists said that the ridge was most probably formed soon after South America split off from Africa. The so-called “spreading ridges” are actually cracks that formed where the tectonic plates moved away from each other and magma started seeping up to fill the gap. 

Draining the Ocean Basins with CryoSat-2 from Marine Gravity on Vimeo.

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