Skip to comments.Scientists probe 'hole in Earth'
Posted on 03/01/2007 1:44:57 AM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu
Scientists are to sail to the mid-Atlantic to examine a massive "open wound" on the Earth's surface.
Dr Chris MacLeod, from Cardiff University, said the Earth's crust appeared to be completely missing in an area thousands of kilometres across.
The hole in the crust is midway between the Cape Verde Islands and the Caribbean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
The team will survey the area, up to 5km (3 miles) under the surface, from ocean research vessel RRS James Cook.
The ship is on its inaugural voyage after being named in February.
Dr MacLeod said the hole in the Earth's crust was not unique, but was recognised as one of the most significant.
He said it was an "open wound on the surface of the Earth", where the oceanic crust, usually 6-7km thick (3.7-4.3 miles), was simply not there.
"Usually the plates are pulled apart and to fill the gap the mantle underneath has to rise up. As it comes up it starts to melt. That forms the magma," he said.
"That's the normal process. Here it has gone awry for some reason.
"The crust does not seem to be repairing itself."
Dr MacLeod said the research could lead to a "new way of understanding" the process of plate tectonics.
The scientist will test theories he developed after visiting the area in 2001 - including the possibility the missing crust was caused by a "detachment fracture".
"Effectively it's a huge rupture - one side is being pulled away from the other. It's created a rupture so big it's actually pulled the entire crust away.
"We also think the mantle did not melt as much as usual and that the normal amount of mantle was not produced."
As a result, the mantle is exposed to seawater, creating a rock called serpentinite.
The survey voyage, costing $1m (£510,000), will be led by marine geophysicist Professor Roger Searle, from Durham University.
Dr Bramley Murton, from the University of Southampton, is the third expert taking part.
They will set sail from Tenerife on Monday and return in April.
The team intends to use sonar to build up an image of the seafloor and then take rock cores using a robotic seabed drill developed by Dr MacLeod.
The progress of the voyage can be followed online.
"That's the normal process. Here it has gone awry for some reason. The crust does not seem to be repairing itself."
Nah, Duct tape it. Works every time ;)
Serpentine is a beautiful dark green marble.
There's a hole in the world tonight
There's a cloud of fear and sorrow
There's a hole in the world tonight
Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow...
If only we'd signed the Kyoto treaty......
The picture in the article makes it look fairly pretty.
This would be a good place for the FedEx "We're doomed" picture.
Nah!!! You don't want to heal or patch it!
It's just Gaia opening her fecund womb to the procreative thrust of Human Exploration.
Either that, or we're going to find the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe evident in the space where the molten rock should be.
It's the earth repairing itself. Since global warming follows the dictates of Democratic Socialism, creating a rise in sealevels everywhere by incalculable proportions, the earth has formed a natural drain, thereby placing the seas in equilibrium.
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