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Mar 6 / Dave Schumaker

Scientists to study “hole” in the Atlantic Ocean’s floor.

exposedmantle.jpgI’ve seen a few articles popping up about this research trip lately. Yesterday, a team of 12 British scientists left the Canary Islands on a maiden voyage of a new research vessel, the RRS James Cook, to study an area near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where a 7 kilometer thick section of the Earth’s crust is missing. In place of the missing crustal material is a 7 kilometer thick section of mantle material (the article doesn’t specifically say it, but it’s safe to say it’s peridotite), which scientists consider a geophysical anomaly.

Scientists suspect there are also two other spots in the area that have similar characteristics. The anomalous areas sit underneath 3,500 meters of ocean, obviously making it fairly difficult to study. This mantle material is irregularly shaped and encompasses an area of nearly 50 x 50 kilometers.

The study aims to accomplish a number of objectives, such as providing deeper insights into the chemistry of the Earth’s oceans, how the crustal material behaves under so much water, as well as supporting theories of how this mantle material came to exist in the spot in the first place.

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