Arctic Mystery: The "Blob"

Of all the worlds oceans, the Arctic Ocean is the most mysterious. Its icy cap and frigid water make it difficult to explore. But a recent American/Canadian team braved the Arctic and came home with new discoveries.

In an area off Siberia,scientists discovered a puzzling blob of water. It was about 1,500 feet thick and about 60 miles wide, and was found at a depth of about 3,000 feet. "It was colder and less salty than the surrounding waters", says oceanographer Jim Swift of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, "and it barely mixes with the Arctic Ocean. We don't know how it got here."

Nearby, the expedition found an undersea mountain that rises two miles from the seafloor. This discovery was a complete surprise, says Swift. No charts show its existence. The 60-person team also performed experiments and collected water samples. Their efforts will help to reveal more Arctic secrets. "We know about the ice on the oceans surface", says Swift, "but the water beneath is mostly unexplored."

Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan

gene carl feldman ( (301) 286-9428
Judith Gradwohl, Smithsonian Institution (Curator/Ocean Planet)