Monday July 24, 2023

Live Science

A massive deep-sea ravine in the Pacific Ocean has been mapped out in greater detail than any other part of the world’s seafloor. The new maps of the “deep-sea Grand Canyon” have a “centimeter-scale resolution” and reveal exactly how the underwater valley is constantly changing.

The Monterey Canyon begins just off the coast in Monterey Bay, California. It extends more than 292 miles (470 kilometers) beneath the waves and is around 7.5 miles (12 km) across at its widest point. The underwater ravine has walls up to 5,580 feet (1,700 meters) tall, and at its deepest point the seafloor is around 2.5 miles (4 km) below the ocean’s surface. 

It is the biggest submarine canyon off the U.S. Pacific coast and has a topography comparable to the Grand Canyon, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

To better understand the vast underwater canyon, researchers from MBARI and other research institutes conducted a series of surveys between 2015 and 2017, capturing the valley’s seafloor in “remarkable detail.” The new surveys provide researchers with a “valuable new perspective to study the processes that sculpt the canyon,” study lead author Monica Wolfson-Schwehr, an oceanographer at the University of New Hampshire and a former MBARI scientist, said in a statement.

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