December 10, 2009

Flooding Caused Mediterranean Sea To Fill In 2 Years

The Mediterranean Sea was filled with water in only two years after a huge flood 5.33 million years ago, says a new study published on Wednesday.

Sea water poured in through the Strait of Gibraltar at a pace three times faster than the current of the Amazon River, wrote the report, available in the journal Nature.

5.6 million years ago the Mediterranean Sea was detached from the world's oceans and was practically without water due to evaporation, the study wrote.

"The Atlantic waters found a way through the present Gibraltar Strait and rapidly refilled the Mediterranean 5.33 million years ago in an event known as the Zanclean flood," it said. "Although the flood started at low water discharges that may have lasted for up to several thousand years, our results suggest that 90 percent of the water was transferred in a short period ranging from a few months to two years."

Older studies implied that it might have taken anywhere from 10 to thousands of years to fill up the Mediterranean.

Scientists, headed by Daniel Garcia-Castellanos and Jaume Almera, took both borehole and seismic information to reveal a 125-mile channel located across the Gibraltar strait that was etched out by floodwaters.

They constructed an incision replica to approximate the length of the flood and.

"We do not envisage a waterfall, as is often represented: instead the geophysical data suggests a huge ramp, several kilometers wide, descending from the Atlantic to the dry Mediterranean...," the scientists wrote. "This extremely abrupt flood may have involved peak rates of sea level rise in the Mediterranean of more than 10 meters a day."

Garcia-Castellanos said to the AFP that although the water surged into the Mediterranean Sea at colossal speeds, it was at a rather small angle.

The swiftness of the flood seemed to have been "catastrophic" due to the outcome on the Mediterranean bionetwork and the atmosphere.


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