Feeds

Researchers find massive mud flow off African coast

Sediment slunk 1,500km

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

It happened 60,000 years ago, so we'll concede that we're a bit late with the news, but scientists have uncovered evidence of the largest ever flow of sand and mud, off the coast of north-west Africa.

Researchers report in Nature that over the course of mere hours, or days, some 225 billion metric tonnes of sediment was dumped into the ocean after a landslide 60,000 years ago. The flow of debris travelled 1,500km before grinding and squelching to a halt.

The team says that the landslide responsible for the flow was probably not the largest ever known, however: landslides off the coast of Hawaii are known to have been bigger, and the Storegga slip off the coast of Norway also has it beat.

But in terms of sheer scale, the 1,500km long, 150km wide trail of sediment is in a class of its own. Researchers estimate that the flow dropped into the sea is ten times the amount of sediment carried by every river in the world each year.

"If you look at the distance it travelled and how much material it moved, it was at least as big as many volcanic eruptions," co-author Peter Talling from the University of Bristol, UK, told the BBC.

The researchers say that the blocks from the landslide would have broken up and become suspended in the water, flowing down the edge of the land mass, through an undersea canyon, and out to sea. Only a lessening of the gradient of the sea floor finally put the brakes on the huge volume of mud.

Dr. Talling said it would have been similar to an avalanche, where snow barrels down mountains in massive, deadly clouds. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.