Scientists create first digital seafloor map

Scientists create first digital seafloor map

Scientists at the University of Sydney assembled data from thousands of seafloor composition samples to create the first digital map of the massive seafloor’s geologic composition.

Published in the journal Geology, the new digital seafloor map describes the diverse sedimentary composition of the seafloor. The patterns in sediments are expected to help scientists unravel environmental changes that took place in the past and predict Earth’s future.

Sydney University’s Adriana Dutkiewicz and her colleagues analyzed the composition of more than 15,000 seafloor samples that were taken over half a century by numerous research ships. They settled on 13 major classes of sediment, including silica-rich sands, silts and diatom oozes. It is interesting to note here that diatom oozes are the tiny marine organisms that produce 30 per cent of the oxygen that we breathe.

Pointing to the importance of the map, Dutkiewicz said, “The deep ocean floor is a graveyard with much of it made up of the remains of microscopic sea creatures called phytoplankton. “The composition of these remains can help decipher how oceans have responded in the past to climate change.”

Dutkiewicz added that the digital seafloor map showed that the seafloor life is much richer than previously thought.

Previously created seafloor maps used satellites and remote sensing instruments to capture images of underwater canyons and mountains.

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