Ramblings about what I encounter within the realm of the geosciences, as well as the occasional rant about nonsense.

20 December 2008

Anchor's Away! Geology in action in the Mediterranean

Just saw this on Reuters. A couple other news sites (358 at the time of this post) have picked it up as well. The USA Today story even has a map (above), as well as giving us a general location (between Italy and Tunisia). For the geographically challenged (such as myself) here is a map with Tunisia in orange.

Once again internet cables have been cut. Sounds like the work of that arch fiend "Submarine Slides". Doubly so since the USGS recorded a 5.9 earthquake near the location of the three breaks. However, the cable companies and news agencies aren't putting it together that way. They are much more eager to blame that anchor again (really, somebody should keep tabs on that rogue anchor and its cable cutting agenda).
It's not yet know[n] what cut the cables between Italy and Tunisia. A similar outage in January was blamed on a ship's anchor off Egypt, and that may be the case again, according to Interoute, a European Internet Service Provider.
The thing that always bugged me about that anchor story was that several lines were cut not just the one (remember the claims that it was a nefarious plot against... someone). But they only found one anchor. Not to get all JFK conspiracy on people, but I think the anchor was framed. A submarine mass wasting event seems the more reasonable culprit. Especially since rough weather was reported prior to and during the breaks. Correct me if I'm wrong, but rough weather is a potential cause of submarine flows. I'm willing to concede the possibility that maybe ONE cable got cut by the anchor, but several in one event is ludicrous.

Here is an article from AJS on the topic of submarine slumps and their penchant for cable cutting (sorry, subscription required).

Alternatively, you could check out Wikipedia's free entry on the topic.

And here are some free videos of turbidity currents (well models of them).

On the bright side, if the media puts it together properly this time it might even lead to another geological disaster flick. It just needs a catchy name like "Dante's Peak" or "The Core" or "10.5". How about "The Bouma Sequence". It's moody, and tantalizingly mysterious.

Cited:
Heezen, B.C., and Ewing, W.M., Turbidity currents and submarine slumps, and the 1929 Grand Banks [Newfoundland] Earthquake Am J Sci.1952; 250: 849-873

2 comments:

haben said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Kate
http://educationonline-101.com

Bryan said...

Thank you very much for the complement, I appreciate it.

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