Scientists have developed a new ocean map that shows previously unknown mountains, ridges and trenches underneath the world’s oceans. One of their discoveries includes a massive ridge that’s as wide as Texas and located underneath the Gulf of Mexico.
Uncharted ocean details uncovered
Details on the study that led to the new ocean map were published in the journal Science, report The Guardian and other major media outlets. Researchers said they used data from NASA’s Jason-1 and the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellites.
The data revealed thousands of underwater mounts in some of the globe’s most remote parts of the oceans. This is the first time scientists have been able to put together such a detailed ocean map.
According to researchers, approximately 71% of the surface of the globe is covered by water and survey ships haven’t charted about 90% of the oceans’ floor yet. Survey ships use acoustic beams to collect map data for the ocean floor.
Ocean map shows major features
Scientists said that they actually know more about Mars’ topography than about the floors of our own oceans. They added that the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 demonstrated just how little we know about the topography under the oceans.
The new ocean map shows off a number of different structures like scars, ridges and trenches. One of the biggest surprises was a ridge that sites under the Gulf of Mexico. Its length is about as wide as Texas. There’s also another huge ridge just west of the country of Angola in the South Atlantic.
Scientists say that ridge must have formed not long after South America split off from Africa. They added that ridges like this one are called “spreading ridges,” and they’re actually cracks that formed where the tectonic plates moved away from each other and magma started seeping up to fill the gap. Researchers hope to learn more about the planet’s geological history by studying the ocean floors.
Ocean map reveals mountains
Researchers also found thousands of new mountains under the oceans. They say some of those mountains are under several sediment layers.
Scientists warn, however, that what they have learned about the topography under the oceans may be less accurate than the data collected by survey ships. However, they were able to collect data from all over the globe using a method that’s much less expensive than using survey ships.