Finding ways to simulate extreme conditions that might be encountered as we Earthlings start to explore the universe is nearly impossible.
So when other-worldly discoveries like a 100’ wide crater housing toxically salty water flowing with methane are made, they’re worth noting.
Dubbed the Jacuzzi of Despair by scientists, this underwater lake resides 4,200 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. The water within it is five times saltier than ocean water, and it seems to kill any fish or crustacean unlucky enough to fall inside.
It’s theorized that the underwater lake was formed as submerged salt layers shifted and cracked, allowing oil and gas trapped in the shale to escape. The result is a super-salty brine so dense that it doesn’t mix with the seawater around it.
The jacuzzi rises about 12’ above the ocean floor and is lined with mussels that help keep the outer walls intact.
In addition to providing an opportunity to experience extreme conditions that, in this instance, mirror possible geographical features on Saturn, the durability of instruments can also be put to the test. In this case specially-designed sensors were used to measure temperature at different depths of this unique body of water.
As the sensor sank deeper, the temperature rose to 66 degrees Fahrenheit, with the probe plunging more than 60’ but never reaching the bottom. And remember, this is more than 4,000 feet below the Gulf.
In addition to preparing for inter-planetary jaunts, a closer look at the Jacuzzi of Despair could arm scientists with an understanding of how growing temperatures and acidity levels within the Earth’s oceans will impact life on Earth.
This is IEN Now with Jeff Reinke.