Scientists have revealed details of a huge undersea river carrying as much water as the Mississippi at its peak flow.
The river has been found flowing from the Mediterranean Sea in Europe through the Straights of the Bosphorous, into the Black Sea.
The river water is made up of dense salt water and sediment which flows as a river underneath the sea because it is so much heavier than the waters above. The flow cuts deep gorges into the sea bed, in some cases over 100 feet deep and more than a half mile wide, and has its own rapids and waterfalls. The river travels for around 37 miles before dispersing into the Black Sea, which is land locked by Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Romania, Ukraine and Bulgaria.
The water moves at a rate of around 776,000 cubic feet per second, which is equivalent to the flow of the Mississipi River at its peak during the snow melt season in April, and may have started more than 6000 years ago with a surge that forced the salt waters of the Mediterranean into the then fresh water lake now known as the Black Sea.
Many such channels can be found underneath the worlds oceans, some of them thousands of miles long and several miles wide, but this is the first time one has been analyzed in its full flow. The raging waters often destroy equipment before significant measurements can be taken. Researchers from Britain’s University of Leeds used a torpedo shaped robot called ‘Autosub’ which was remotely controlled to hover above the currents, and out of harm’s way, to take measurements. It is thought these rivers may be important for the distribution of nutrients from one ocean area to another.
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