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Earth Science

Mediterranean Might Have Filled In Months 224

Posted by kdawson
from the white-water-to-die-for dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new model suggests that the Mediterranean Sea was filled in a gigantic flood some 5.3 million years ago. According to Daniel Garcia-Castellanos' paper in Nature, the sill at the Straight of Gibraltar gave way rather suddenly, with 40 cm of rock eroding and the water level rising by 10 m per day at its peak. They imagine a shallow, fast-moving stream of water (around 100 km/hr) several kilometers wide pouring into the basin with a flow greater than a thousand Amazon rivers — that's about 100,000,000 cubic meters per second." The flood would have dropped worldwide sea levels by 9.5 meters, probably triggering climate changes. In this model the Mediterranean filled in anywhere from a few months to two years at the outside.
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Mediterranean Might Have Filled In Months

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  • Undo It! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Entropy98 (1340659) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:38AM (#30421624) Homepage

    It has been done, it can be undone: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantropa [wikipedia.org]
    Whatever the arguments against it, I suppose it is within reason that it could be done. But should it be done?

  • Re:5 million? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Megane (129182) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:44AM (#30421652) Homepage
    That could have been the Black Sea flooding. It would have been just as impressive. And a bit later than the Mediterranean.
  • Re:5 million? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thue (121682) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:46AM (#30421662) Homepage

    The creation of the Bosporus Strait is probably a better candidate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_deluge_theory [wikipedia.org]

  • by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdot@mave t j u . org> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:09AM (#30421736) Homepage

    Normally I consider news like this "well nice to know, but it doesn't really affect me".
    This case is different, living in a country which is already mostly under sealevel, these 9.5 meters would have made a huge difference.

    For example see the map at http://www.rivm.nl/vtv/object_map/o1213n39037.html [www.rivm.nl]. If it hadn't happened, we would now have had the island "De Veluwe" :-)

  • Re:Geo-engineering (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:08AM (#30421926)
    Flood the Grand Canyon?
  • by photonic (584757) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:04AM (#30422072)
    Probably the best small-scale example of how violent this event would have been is given by the flooding of an open-air mine [wikipedia.org] in Malaysia. The rocks separating the mine from the sea became unstable and collapsed, filling the whole thing in minute or so: video! [youtube.com]
  • Re:Chaos theory (Score:4, Interesting)

    by psnyder (1326089) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:05AM (#30422074)
    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like the science is even shakier than that.

    The Mediterranean could easily have formed over tens of thousands of years (it says so in the article), but they're puzzled that there's a U-shaped sediment deposit instead of a the V-shape made by slow water erosion.

    Glacial valleys [wikipedia.org] are also U-shaped. Glaciers have covered that area many times over the last 5 million years.

    Tectonic movement could also smooth out the normal V-shape of slower water erosion. All patches of earth are constantly rising, sinking, and/or moving horizontally. The middle of the V rising could explain the U. The sides of the V sinking or moving away from the center could also explain the U. Notice the mountainous areas around Spain and NW Africa [wikipedia.org]. There is a tectonic plate boundary next it [wikipedia.org]. There's been plenty of movement in that area over the last 5 million years.

    Multiple rivers could also have broken into the Mediterranean and eventually carried off the bits of land in between, also explaining a U-shape, but over a longer period of time than the "2-year max" their simulation shows.



    Here are 3 less exciting, but (as far as I can tell) plausible explanations. It could also be a mixture of these and/or other factors we haven't considered.

    It looks like they simply chose one hypothesis that sounded impressive and made a computer simulation of it.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @09:17AM (#30422350)

    Huge salt desert in Australia which used to be an inland sea. It's about 15m below sea level

    Dig 2 canals. boom. you have an inland sea again. Australia stops being a huge desert.

    You'd need 2 canals at opposite ends to pump the salt out.

  • Re:5 million? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by meow27 (1526173) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @09:23AM (#30422384)
    depends if you are interpreting the bible literally.

    do you think the world was made in 6 literal days? especially before the sun and moon were created?

    its hard to find evidence for everything up until joseph (were there is evidence that he was something like the prime minister of egypt)
  • Re:5 million? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xaxa (988988) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @10:56AM (#30422970)

    For a much better story, read the Saga of Pliocene Exile [wikipedia.org] by Julian May.

  • Re:5 million? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @12:44PM (#30423624) Homepage Journal

    Orson Scott Card wrote a short story [hatrack.com] which unifies many of the world's flood myths and explains them as a sudden rise in the level of the Red Sea at the close of the last ice age.

    Speculative fiction, not science, but pretty entertaining and a little bit interesting.

  • Re:Geo-engineering (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @02:55PM (#30424506) Journal

    The Salton Sea is fed by a few rivers and various drainage run-offs. In order to flood Death Valley, a channel would be opened to either the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of California (a.k.a. the Sea of Cortez), which is open to the Pacific Ocean, or both.

    A Death Valley project would have a much larger source and thus would not have the many of the issues the Salton Sea has. The primary concern would most-likely be pollution and climate effects.

  • by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:16PM (#30425138) Homepage
    Alright, lets do some back of the envelope calculations here:

    The Eyre basin is some 171000 cubic kilometers, assuming an average of 15 below sea level.

    The entire ocean has some 1347000000 cubi kilometers.

    This makes the Eyre Basin approximately 0.000126948775 of the entire oceans in the world, and since the average depth of the ocean is about 3,796 meters, that comes to a roughly 48cm drop, which according to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] should offset the effects of global warming for a century or so.

    Current sea level rise has occurred at a mean rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past century,[1][2] and more recently at rates estimated near 2.8 ± 0.4[3] to 3.1 ± 0.7[4] mm per year (1993-2003). Current sea level rise is due significantly to global warming,[5] which will increase sea level over the coming century and longer periods.[6][7] Increasing temperatures result in sea level rise by the thermal expansion of water and through the addition of water to the oceans from the melting of continental ice sheets. Thermal expansion, which is well-quantified, is currently the primary contributor to sea level rise and is expected to be the primary contributor over the course of the next century. Glacial contributions to sea-level rise are less important,[8] and are more difficult to predict and quantify.[8] Values for predicted sea level rise over the course of the next century typically range from 90 to 880 mm, with a central value of 480 mm.

    Haha, that was way too much fun.
  • Re:5 million? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kklein (900361) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @11:13PM (#30427884)

    Most of the Christian that quote the real age of the Earth have no idea how fabricated the date was.

    Most Christians don't know anything about Christianity. They don't read the Bible. They don't know where it came from. They don't know who wrote it. They don't know anything about Judaism, which was the actual religion of Jesus, and what, if they were serious about their religion, is what they should practice. They spout gibberish that would be improved substantially just by going back to the actual text and asking their local rabbis what a lot of it means--and that's really just correcting their gibberish with older gibberish!

    I'm an atheist, but I was raised evangelical. I want to shake so many Christians, because it is absolutely possible to be Christian and not be a tiresome moron, but it just takes some reading not just parroting what they hear from other ignorant leaders. Even just reading the Bible and learning what it says would improve their behavior (in most cases).

  • Re:5 million? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Monday December 14, 2009 @07:14AM (#30429736) Journal

    You're probably thinking of Nahmanides [wikipedia.org] aka Ramban who lived 800 years ago. His theory is the 6000 odd years since Adam were preceded by the 6 days of creation, except each instance of creation was not a 'day' but a cycle from chaos to order and back again that lasted billions of years, and that the entire universe was created in a big bang. Even that time itself was created in this event. All by interpreting the deeper meaning in the holy texts, which would make these ideas even older.

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