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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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  • by assemblerex (1275164) * on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:16AM (#30421544)
    just had an orgasm.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Whatshisface (1203604)
      Wait, how can the first post be redundant? And its actually on-topic, and reasonably funny. Mods, why do you hate poor assemblerex ?
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:49AM (#30421858)

      And that filled the Mediterrean? Might explain the water quality...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "The flood would have dropped worldwide sea levels by 9.5 meters, probably triggering climate changes."

      OMG, something MUST be done to revert the planet to it's pre-Mediterranean-Sea-filling pristine state, or you will all rot in Al Gore's climate Purgatory!

  • 5 million? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ravenspear (756059) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:20AM (#30421564)
    Are you sure that flood didn't happen 5 thousand years ago?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are you sure that flood didn't happen 5 thousand years ago?

      This man is right. Read all about it right here: http://conservapedia.com/Great_Flood

    • 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]

    • Re:5 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:48AM (#30421666)

      Are you sure that flood didn't happen 5 thousand years ago?

      The whole point is there were multiple flood events at different points in history. It's one of the reasons the stories are universal is that most areas had some form of great flood at some point in history. Look at it this way. At the end of the last ice age most of the population of Europe as well as much of the rest of the world would have lived along the coast much as they do now. Most of that land is now under water. The coast flooded through both gradual sea level rise and a series of flood events. When you are dealing with oral histories 2,000 years and 6,000 years can be hard to tell apart. Also the much quoted Biblical age of the Earth was calculated in 1650.

      "In 1650, Archbishop Ussher published the Ussher chronology, a chronology dating the creation to the night preceding October 23 4004 BC."

      There's no real dates in the old testament that can be referenced to modern dates. He came by that date by adding up ages of biblical figures some of whom are claimed to have lived 500 to 900 years. Coming up with an exact month is impressive given the fact few of the births were referenced to the actual age of the parents. Translated it was all guess work based on wild suppositions and had little to do with the Bible itself. Most of the Christian that quote the real age of the Earth have no idea how fabricated the date was. Personally I'll take facts over faith any day of the week.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:16AM (#30421952)

        Me personally, I would have *loved* to have been born BC. That way, we count down our age, and your friends would greet you with, 'You're looking younger; how *do* you manage it' with each birthday!

        • by polar red (215081)

          wrong ! that only occurs when we approach the Gnab Gib ! Red dwarf had a great documentary about that.

          • "You sure you don't mean The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?". That was the remark I was about to make. Then I did some googling and found references to the Red Dwarf episode "Backwards". Man, I wish the local science fiction channel would get off its duff and air some actual science fiction.
            • by polar red (215081)

              I see a lot of themes/stories occurring in many different series, so it's probably not surprising references to a particular series is sometimes misinterpreted to be a reference to another series.

        • A wonderful deleted scene in "The Life of Brian" has shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem wondering "is it AD yet?"

        • Yeah, but knowing the exact date on which you'll suffer the horror of un-birth would be a terrible burden to bear.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        There's no real dates in the old testament that can be referenced to modern dates.

        To be nit-picky, this isn't true. There are plenty of Old Testament references to contemporary events. For example, Isaiah 45 refers to the conquest of the Babylonian Empire by Cyrus the Great, which was ca. 540 B.C.. Solomon can maybe be dated from references in non-Biblical king lists. There are other examples. However (and this is what you're really talking about), through Exodus the references to external events are so fuzzy as to be meaningless.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        what's wrong with following a made up date based on made up material. That's like saying that the year 12 B.B.Y. in Star Wars is just made up and should be ignored. If you're a Star Wars fan it may have significance. If you are a Bible fan then the 4004BC date is significant.

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

          by Korin43 (881732) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:43PM (#30425374) Homepage
          It's more like taking dates in a fanfic as canon. If the movie or an official book says something happened in 12 BBY, then it makes sense "in-universe". If some fanfic says the death star was built in 5 billion BBY, no one would take it seriously, but when a Bible fanfic says the world was created in 4004 BC, everyone believes that it's not only canonical, but it's true in real life.
      • Re:5 million? (Score:5, Informative)

        by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:11PM (#30425104)

        Also the much quoted Biblical age of the Earth was calculated in 1650.

        Untrue. The belief the earth is 6000 years old goes back at least to 200 CE [wikipedia.org] : "The majority of classical Rabbis hold that the Earth was created around 6,000 years ago.[10] This view is based on a chronology developed in a midrash, Seder Olam, which was based on a literal reading of the book of Genesis. It is considered to have been written by the Tanna Yose ben Halafta and covers history from the creation of the universe to the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem."

        I know because saint Augustine [wikipedia.org] (400 CE) referred to this timetable too : "They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed."

      • 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).

    • That the earth is 5000 years old, or 6000 years old. In fact, the bible doesn't give a date for any of its events at all. It's really only certain protestant faiths that have the bible as being completely inerrant and the earth as 6000 years old. The rest of us Christians are in it for some good food on Dec 25th and maybe to bomb some muzzies when they get out of line.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by meow27 (1526173)
      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)
  • 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?

    • by owlstead (636356)

      Gosh, yes, a few meters added to the current sea levels sounds like brilliant idea. Count me in (a few meters of sea water).

  • Geo-engineering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quantaman (517394) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:43AM (#30421642)

    This research has inspired me to save the planet.

    Consider, what are the 3 big problems with AGW?

    1. The climate gets warmer than we'd like.

    2. The sea levels rise.

    3. Mass famine as the farmland goes dry.

    4. The extra CO2 acidifies the oceans screwing with the fishies and shellfish.

    So now I give you the perfect geo-engineering solution to all these problems!

    Step 1: Set off a bunch of Nukes in a desert somewhere, excavating giant holes in the ground.

    Step 2: Dig a little path to the ocean and have it fill in the holes.

    Benefits: First the ocean levels go down to their regular levels, yay! Second the resulting Nuclear winter offsets global warming, another yay!
    Third the desert is now ocean front property and not as deserty, maybe more farm land (do this in Africa for bonus famine offsetting points).

    And lastly to handle the acidy oceans... the fallout from the Nukes mutates the fishies and shellfish to adapt to the carbonic acid oceans!

    Now can I have my Nobel Peace now? Other than some minor side-effects [imdb.com] this should be a pretty effective solution.

    • by houghi (78078) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:35AM (#30421794)

      I will help you. The dead sea is already such a big hole in the earth. So just let it stream in there. As it also will flood the most troublesome part of the middle east, that is yet another problem solved.

      • Re:Geo-engineering (Score:4, Informative)

        by mangu (126918) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:51AM (#30421868)

        The dead sea is already such a big hole in the earth. So just let it stream in there

        There are other alternatives. One is in the Death valley [wikipedia.org] in California. Another is the Qattara depression [wikipedia.org] in Egypt, where there have been proposals to generate electricity by letting the Mediterranean sea water flow in through turbines.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Flood the Grand Canyon?
          • Re:Geo-engineering (Score:4, Informative)

            by maeka (518272) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:52AM (#30422040) Journal

            Unlike the other options mentioned, the Grand Canyon is significantly above sea level. It is quite a ways up a river which eventually could make it to the ocean, no?

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd[ ]org ['ot.' in gap]> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:16AM (#30421950)

      I am intrigued and invite you to join our Evil Overlords World Domination Club.

      Our plan is evil. Man, it is so evil!
      It is a bad, bad plan, that will hurt many people that are good!
      I think it’s great, because it’s so bad!

      Prerequisites to enter:
      - An evil lair (preferably under a volcano).
      - At least 100 minions (get the starter pack today!) or 10 lifeforms with super-powers.
      - Super-secret secret super-weapon.
      - Read the club rules [globalguardians.com].
      - And most importantly: An evilness of at least 10,000 on the trough-the-roof Schwarzschild scale!

      We also have a dress code [google.com]. But as long as you look really evil, you’re welcome. :)

    • by selven (1556643)

      Too bad the material that gets removed to make a crater has to go somewhere.

      • by quantaman (517394)

        Too bad the material that gets removed to make a crater has to go somewhere.

        It does go somewhere, it goes to the side of the crater and vaporized into the atmosphere.

    • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mikael (484)

        Australian aborigines have legends which documented the time there were forests in central Australia. These were confirmed by analysis of seeds found in sediment layers. Those legends were confirmed to be around 10,000 years old.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timmarhy (659436)
          yes, it was probably before they burnt it all down and caused mass extinction of the super mammals http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_megafauna [wikipedia.org]. they introduced fire to a country that was otherwise lush and green. i find it amusing that the wiki article calls this "management" of the environment.
      • 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 le
    • by bcmm (768152)
      People who've been modding this Insightful instead of Funny:

      The material has to go somewhere. Specifically, it gets blown to a fine dust, which settles over probably most of the rest of the world. Said dust will be radioactive (there will be far more than just the radioactivity from the remains of the weapon, since much of that soil will have been exposed to extreme neutron flux and transmuted into unstable isotopes).
      • In the 50s we did use nukes for some big earth moving jobs and they worked well. We have since developed bombs that are much less radioactive. Anyways... at worst we could use the russian non-nuclear bombs which are almost as big.
        • by stevelinton (4044)

          Have you a reference for that? It was certainly talked about, but I never heard of it being done.

      • (there will be far more than just the radioactivity from the remains of the weapon, since much of that soil will have been exposed to extreme neutron flux and transmuted into unstable isotopes).

        Well, if by "much of that soil" you really meant "a minute fraction of that soil", then you're pretty much right.

        Do note, for the record, that most of those "unstable isotopes" fall into either:

        (A)long lived, and thus not very radioactive, or

        (B)short lived, and thus not radioactive very long.

    • by greg_barton (5551)

      Step 1: Set off a bunch of Nukes in a desert somewhere, excavating giant holes in the ground.

      All of that earth has got to go somewhere. Where? Nukes->explosions->vaporized dirt->clouds of dirt->nuclear winter.

      No, it's not a good thing.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        If you read the entire proposal, he mentioned that as one of the benefits. (Avoid global warming.)

        FWIW, most of the objections are silly. If you use an underground nuclear blast, most of the radioactivity stays in place. In this case you'd want to emplace them close enough to the surface that the cavern melted by the bomb collapsed...that being kind of the point.

        I don't know that the proposal is practical, but it's not blatantly obvious that it isn't.

  • No news (Score:5, Informative)

    by pmontra (738736) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:44AM (#30421650) Homepage
    Julian May already wrote about it in The Golden Torc back in the '80s and her story is way more interesting than this one :-)
  • Somehow I feel that this hypothesis will mangled beyond recognition so creationists can make it somehow seem as if it supports their idea of young earth and Noah's ark.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:17AM (#30421758)

      This one happened almost 5 million years before modern man first arrived. There are several better floods, if you want to explain the presence of so many flood stories in ancient cultures. Really, there are several candidates that could explain all of those stories about the entire (known) world getting flooded, and Noah isn't the only ancient story about the world being flooded. Frankly, such things being passed down in oral history is only reasonable. If anyone had seen this flood, you can bet that every generation for a very long time would have heard the story!

      It's like all those myths about dragons, which are spread through many different cultures. Of course they never really existed, but they have a basis in reality: people probably found dinosaur fossils and the legends grew. Just because things have been legendized doesn't mean they have no basis in fact.

  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:48AM (#30421668) Homepage Journal

    This story would be much cooler with a video clip.

  • by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdot AT mavetju DOT 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" :-)

  • by joib (70841)

    Oh man, wave of a lifetime.

    • by mangu (126918)

      Well, there might not be so great waves, but according to TFA "It would be an exciting rafting place" Garcia-Castellanos says.

  • For the audacious, pump the water back out and refill when a new climate is desired ...

  • In MONTHS? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Huzzah! (1548443) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:25AM (#30421966)
    Noah shit??
  • 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]
  • by mbone (558574) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:20AM (#30422110)

    The Mediterranean flood hypothesis is not new [wiley.com] - these authors have just done more work on the geology. They lean against the giant waterfall idea ("We do not envisage a waterfall..."), which is a shame - I always liked the idea of a supersonic waterfall.

  • Dam' Anthropgenic Global Warming! Al Gore, you're too late to save us!

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @09:28AM (#30422402)

    They imagine a shallow, fast-moving stream of water (around 100 km/hr)

    And you just know there are cave drawings somewhere showing jackasses trying to body surf in it.

  • Video, or it didn't happen.
  • ...let's at least get the name of the place right. It's Strait of Gibraltar, not "straight".

  • by ranson (824789) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:45PM (#30424024) Homepage Journal

    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.

    I'm relieved to know the Strait of Gibraltar is not gay; I was convinced he was hitting on me the other day.

  • by trout007 (975317) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:07PM (#30424594)
    I always thought it would be cool to cut a canal from the ocean to Death Valley. With the heat there you would get a lot of evaporation and could sustain a current that you could use for power generation. Plus you could cool the air and get some rainfall. We can make our own little Med.

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