Senior Editor

The Inertia

The ocean is an interesting place. It covers 70 percent of the earth, is responsible for about half of the oxygen in the air we breathe and is full of creatures so wonderfully creepy, beautiful, and downright weird that they could be from an old sci-fi movie. It’s also the best playground ever, but despite all that, we know almost nothing about it.

As of the turn of the century (nearly 20 years ago now, but not much has changed), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated that as much as 95 percent of the ocean and 99 percent of the ocean floor remain unexplored. Imagine what lies beneath? It is all but certain there are countless creatures we’ve yet to find and all but certain there are some we simply never will. It’s exciting to think about it, isn’t it?

That’s why the animation — a high-resolution remake of a 2008 NASA rendering — above will likely strike your fancy. The ocean floor is just as rugged and mountainous as the land above. Vast canyons, huge mountains, and wide plains exist down there in the deep blue.

“This animation simulates a drop in sea level that gradually reveals this detail,” reads the description. “As the sea level drops, the continental shelves appear immediately. They are mostly visible by a depth of 140 meters, except for the Arctic and Antarctic regions, where the shelves are deeper. The mid-ocean ridges start to appear at a depth of 2000 to 3000 meters. By 6000 meters, most of the ocean is drained except for the deep ocean trenches, the deepest of which is the Marianas Trench at a depth of 10,911 meters.”

Of course, life would cease to exist were all the water in the ocean to disappear, but you can bet on the way down a whole bunch of new waves would show up.


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