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Earth Science

Mediterranean Might Have Filled In Months 224

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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  • Geo-engineering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:43AM (#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 Zakabog ( 603757 ) <john@@@jmaug...com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:46AM (#30421664)

    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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:48AM (#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.

  • Re:Roland Emmerich (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Whatshisface ( 1203604 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:00AM (#30421708)
    Wait, how can the first post be redundant? And its actually on-topic, and reasonably funny. Mods, why do you hate poor assemblerex ?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:17AM (#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.

  • Re:Chaos theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:24AM (#30421766) Homepage Journal

    ... the result is fundamentally flawed.

    ... just like the rest of the science: it is all based on observations made by rather imperfect human eyes and generalizations delivered by our rather interpretive brains.

    The crucial difference is whether scientists do understand the shaky foundation or they foolishly insist on objectivity of their research.

  • Re:Geo-engineering (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:51AM (#30421870)

    Be honest, you just wanna see a huge kaboom, like everyone else here!

  • Re:Chaos theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @08:50AM (#30422038) Homepage Journal

    99% of me agrees with you wholeheartedly. It's rather useless.

    Yet there is 1% of me which also knows that it is an integral part of science to make up some silly theories and models about stuff which we would never know for sure. After all, pretty much everything in the today's science started some long time ago from a silly theory. It was silly and unknowable in the past - while now it is treated as an fact.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @10:16AM (#30422344) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by localroger ( 258128 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @11:29AM (#30422782) Homepage
    Chaos theory only applies to certain kinds of systems, which for well defined reasons might demonstrate sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Turbulence is chaotic. However, bulk hydrodynamic flow is not; it can be showed at a large range of scales that simple equations and models map pretty closely to reality. The low-level turbulence averages out and doesn't affect the final result much.

    Computer models of chaotic systems may not reflect the exact performance of what they are modeling, but they can demonstrate the range of possible and likely results.

    And the model is not just based on mountain streams; it is also based on some much larger and more recent events, such as the creation of the Snake River Gorge (300 meters deep in a matter of weeks) and the flooding of the English Channel. Water has enormous power to carve up rock, and the conclusion of the study is not in any way extraordinary; it's what anyone who has ever stood at the bottom of the Snake River Gorge would even find rather obvious.

    The problem is that throughout the colonial era it was widely assumed by learned men that the Earth is a stable place where a comfortable equilibrium reigns. What we have found in the last 40 years or so is that the Earth is actually an extraordinarily violent and often inhospitable place, and the relative stability of the last few centuries is an exception, not the rule. If we hang around here long enough we will have to deal with violent changes, and efforts to engineer such a complex and sensitive system might make things worse. The problem is that we are engineering it by pumping carbon into the atmosphere, and a sensible person might conclude knowing what the system is capable of that kicking it might not be such a good idea.

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

    by JoshHeitzman ( 1122379 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @01:38PM (#30423578) Homepage
    Unless Moses was Akhenaten.
  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:07PM (#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.
  • Re:5 million? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Korin43 ( 881732 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:43PM (#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.
  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:50PM (#30425850)
    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.
  • Re:5 million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @10:44AM (#30430858) Homepage

    They would be of little importance, and I would have no problem with someone believing that the Earth poofed into being 6,000 years ago (or yesterday at 3PM) except that some of these people are pushing for the "Poof theory" to be taught alongside evolution and other scientific topics. When their "teach our religious beliefs in science class" arguments failed, they "took the religious out" by calling it Intelligent Design. (There's someone *wink* *wink* intelligent *nudge* *nudge* who created all this. Now I'm not saying it is God *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*, just someone intelligent.) This too is (rightly) being called out as being a thin veil for Creationism so now they're pushing for teachers to cover the "flaws" of Evolution. These flaws are inevitably things that have been addressed a hundred times already, but if you keep repeating them enough, people won't pay attention to the fact that you've been refuted over and over.

    In short, Young Earth Creationists would love for our kids to be taught that the world came into being when God waved his magic wand 6,000 years ago. Then God planted phony evidence that seems to show the Earth to be billions of years old, but it really is there to test people. If you fall for logic and reason, you get sent to Hell, but if you shut off your brain and blindly trust what some people tell you God wants you to believe then you will go to Heaven.

    And yes, this is coming from someone who believes in God. I just don't believe in a God who a) created the world 6,000 years ago with all the appearance of being billions of years old or b) punishes people for following evidence that He put in place.

Loose bits sink chips.