The largest underwater mudflow ever measured lasted for two days

In 2020, a 1,100 km long mudflow formed in the Atlantic Ocean. The power might have gone unnoticed if it hadn’t hit the internet cables. Only now the researchers were able to process all the data.

so called Current turbidity (loosely translated as mudslide) that occurred in 2020, but only now have scientists been able to process all the data about it into Report. From January 14-16, the underwater current sent a huge mass of mud and sand from its source on the Congo River more than 1,100 km into the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, many internet cables were cut, disrupting the internet connection between Nigeria and South Africa.

The influx was caused by the worst flooding along the Congo River in 50 years. It was at the end of December 2019. The floods led to a large deposit of sand and mud in the river. An exceptionally high spring tide two weeks later moved everything.

Professor Peter Taling (Durham University) contributed to the report and compares the impact to an “ordinary avalanche” in an interview with BBC. As it erodes the river bed and sea floor, more and more sand and mud are captured. In this way the mudflow became increasingly dense and accelerating. Upon departure, velocities of 5 meters per second were measured, and eventually the mass was pushed further at a speed of 8 meters per second over the ocean floor, more than 4,500 meters deep. For example, many cables that run the Internet, information stored in the digital cloud, and voice mail have been damaged.

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This makes mudslide and its study important: such cables are responsible for 99 percent of all global data transfers between different continents. The study, which involved scientists from the United Kingdom as well as experts from Germany’s Geomar Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research and the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Seas, aims to help determine the best place for future cables and repair vessels. ..

For example, it is best to avoid areas where there is a greater chance of deep erosion. These are often located at the top of canyons, which sound like “underwater waterfalls”, in technical terms. knickpoints Call,” Mike Clare, oceanographic advisor to the International Cable Protection Commission, told the BBC.

Denton Watson

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