Monday, January 30, 2012
Spongebob Was Right?!?!?!
My typical Saturday morning is nothing special; in fact, it’s very comparable to that of most college students (or so I hope). As I woke up at the crack of noon, I stumble to my kitchen grab some Lucky Charms, turn on cartoons, and pull out my laptop for some amusing time wasted on Stumbleupon.com. I was quite content with my childish ways when I saw something on Spongebob Squarepants that just didn’t make sense, Go figure. It’s one of my favorite episodes where Spongebob rips his shorts to make everyone laugh. In it they are on the beach called Goo Lagoon. Wait! Hold It! Alright Spongebob, I’m callin you out… an underwater lake? SHENANIGANS!!! Well as luck would have it my stumbleupon brought me to a site talking about the discovery of, you guessed it, underwater lakes. Dam you Spongebob… So I decided to look a bit more into it and write a blog.
So the most obvious thing here is that the water must be separate in some way, the underwater lake water has to be denser. The water is actually a briney mix of salt water and hydrogen sulfide. Brine is used in reference to the ultra high concentration of salt in the underwater water. It is produced through the movements of large salt deposits called salt tectonics. Since the water is so much more dense than regular sea water, it sinks to the bottom and forms a distinct separation, which acts and flows like a river.
So how do they form? An underwater lake found in the Gulf of Mexico has a suspected history. During the Jurassic period, it is thought the waters in this area were extremely shallow and were eventually cut off from the ocean. The area soon dried out and formed a salt plain. The salt and other materials were thought to be about 8km thick, that’s a lot of salt!!! Overtime the land shifted again and the area was once again exposed to the ocean. The new ultra saline solution sunk to the bottom of the ocean forming the underwater lake. Today, the large amount of salt deposits underneath the water keep a good supply of salt going into the underwater lake.
Hydrogen sulfide is extremely toxic, so it sucks to say that there will probably not be a super fish thriving down there. However, there are always the extremeophiles lurking that just love a great place like this to live. In fact there is an underwater lake on the abyssal plain that has a ton of life in and around it.
So how close are these underwater lakes to actual lakes? The one found in the Gulf of Mexico had banks and plants (that closely resemble trees) growing around it. They also have waves! That’s right, the underwater lake has its own waves! Underwater lakes can have both sandy and rocky shores, which are a focus for all different types of organisms. The waterfront seems to provide a lot of nutrients for life. The “rocky” shore is actually thousands of mussels feeding off the methane from the underwater lake. Fish of all different types hang out because there is a huge abundance of food. A new type of Polychaete has even been discovered.
Ok Spongebob, you may have taken a long way around it, but I actually learned something useful. These underwater lakes are just awesome pieces of nature that are actually big parts in underwater ecosystems. They provide places to live for lots of extremeophiles, and have tons of sea life all around them. There is still plenty of research to be done on them, but they are a really cool discovery. And to think… people say cartoons rot your mind.
ALSO! Check out this video of scientist freaking out about an underwater lake wave!
I have yet to find an actual research paper on underground lakes.
(This is the class assignment part) In this blog I used the hook technique. My opening paragraph is comical and designed to hook the reader into something interesting. It explains the story on how I discovered this topic, and takes a very leisurely way into introducing the topic. It helps the reader realize that the story isn’t going to be filled with a bunch of boring science jargon.