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Jul 9 / Dave Schumaker

Sand Avalanches and Sea Level Changes in the Gulf of Mexico

A team of researchers from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program has found evidence of massive turbidity currents that carried sediments into the deep-water Gulf of Mexico. The expedition scientists plan to obtain detailed measurements of changes in sediment and fluid properties to enable prediction of the mechanics of catastrophic underwater flows known as turbidity currents. These currents are akin to underwater avalanches and carry large amounts of sand and mud in suspension, sometimes for hundreds of miles, at speeds up to 70 miles per hour near the seabed. Sediments from these currents constitute an important piece of evidence in the study of sea level and climate change. Often, large petroleum reservoirs are found in the porous and permeable turbidite sands in deep water.

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