In the 1981 episode 'The Scaraghosta Sea' of the TV animation, 'Super-Friends', viewers were introduced to an undersea world miles down deep beneath the ocean floor. Oceans were regarded man's continuing frontier. On 'Super-Friends', an earthquake near the coast of the Cape of Good Hope fault line created a giant whirlpool which propelled two scientists on the mini-submarine Explorer, Aquaman, Batman and Robin into an undersea harbor, inhabited by pirate ghosts. Using the power of modern ship, the sea pirates decided to set sail to the ocean surface to terrorize the Seven Seas again. 

Two-thirds of the Earth's surface lay beneath the oceans, it was reported in 1976, a new world different from what appeared on land. Sir Edward Bullard informed, "Sea floor mountains are all volcanoes, rocks are lava-formed black basalts, sediments and lavas are all quite young. On land, mountains are formed from flat rocks that have been squeezed and folded, the cores are granites, some rocks are 4,000 million years old.

"The landscape on the ocean floor features the mid-ocean ridge that runs around the world. Earthquakes continually occur, the seafloor is splitting apart, and lava flowing through the cracks forms new ocean floor. The ridge plates which make up either side of the ridge and adjacent continents are moving outwards. At the outer edges of the moving plates the sea floor plunges beneath the continents along a great earthquake belt.

"By tracing the history of sea floor movement, geologists discovered that the sea floor reflected past reversals in the Earth's magnetic field. The new insights give us a scientific basis for oil and mineral exploration. Not only is the floor of the Atlantic moving outward from the ridge, North America and Europe are moving, too, and getting farther and farther apart.

"Similar processes are at work in the South Atlantic where Africa and South America are separating, and in the Indian Ocean where India and Africa are getting farther apart. Australia and Antarctica are also separating. Clearly it is not possible for all the oceans to widen at the same time. If the continents move apart in some places, they must come closer together in others. To put it in another way, if sea floor is being created on the ridges, it must be destroyed somewhere else.

"The place where the sea floor disappears is marked by the great belts of earthquakes around the Pacific and in some other place, such as the Caribbean and there are of islands between the southern tip of South America and Antartica. The belts of earthquakes are shallow on the ocean side and run down under the continents to depths of six or seven hundred kilometers. It is now clear that, along these belts of earthquakes, the outward moving plates of ocean floor are plunging down beneath the continents and returning again to the depths from which they emerged when they were formed at the volcanoes in mid-ocean."

Richard Hoyt of the 'Honolulu Star-Bulletin' reported in 1968, "There are five main ways of studying the ocean floor and the crust beneath the floor.

1) Gravity profiles: Gravity varies directly with the density of matter. Stronger gravity means a heavier mass. A gravity profile, or measurement, is taken with a special meter aboard a plane or ship. These measurements help Lkanont scientists determine where older formations are being pushed.

2) Magnetic profiles: As each new ridge of lighter material is pushed upward it is imprinted with magnetic properties current at that time. Since magnetic fields of the Earth change periodically, the magnetization of succeeding generations of rock also differs. This is why scientists have been intrigued with ribbons of rock with different magnetic readings which run parallel to the ridges on the ocean floors.

3) Bottom photographs: Bottom photographs show only what an ocean floor looks like. A photograph can't show the more important crust beneath the floor.

4) Seismic probes: A seismic probe shows the depth of the sediments on the ocean floor and type and depth of the crust beneath that. The process known as a seismic refraction works like this - a depth charge or similar explosive is dumped from one research vessel and detonated. Another ship from 1000 feet to 60 miles away records the vibrations of the explosion as they are echoed upward. The information is interpreted into a profile, or model picture, of the crust beneath the ocean, the sediments on the ocean floor, and a middle layer between the two. Detailed records of the Earth's crust down to 10,000 feet below the ocean floor can be recorded with this technique.

5) Core samples: JOIDES is taking core samples, or actual physical samples of sediments and crust material, from ocean floors throughout the world by deep sea drilling. This drilling is similar to the proposed Mohole Project off the coast of Hawaii which was recently canceled."

Fantastic wealth in food and minerals lay beneath the oceans of the world would be used to serve the world's growing population. From the United Nations, 'RNS' reported in 1969, "When the nations began to discover the value of what was beneath the waters, the old, old story of property rights began, a problem facing the UN today. In developing the wealth of the waters a kind of international legalese has developed, problems facing the UN that would keep all the Philadelphia lawyers busy for a lifetime.

"It all began when the countries of the world realized that poet Thomas Gray, two centuries ago (in 1768), knew whereof he spoke when he wrote: 'Full many a gem of purest ray serene; The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear.' Technology is advancing steadily, and the UN is anxious to push forward with the juridical and scientific framework for things to come. Already (in 1969), US oil companies are producing petroleum from wells 200 meter under water. Within ten years (around 1979), it should be possible to reach oil deposits as deep as 2000 meters.

"Should there be a supranational power controlling the ocean floor? Should the continental shelves – those relatively shallow areas near the coastlines – or part of them, come under international control? Just where does the sea bed start? Can a country really claim sovereignty over a patch of ocean floor a couple of hundred miles from its shore? And what exactly constitutes 'the peaceful use' of the sea bed?

"For big powers such as the US and the (former) Soviet Union (or USSR), the military potential of underwater warfare is of critical importance. To small, developing nations, a sea shore could be a boom if exploitation of the riches by those technologically capable of the job would not threaten a potential neo-colonialism. To shipping interests it is important that safeguards against military purposes outside territorial waters do not interfere with traditional freedom of the seas. As complicated as the legal problems seem and as distant the hope for actual exploitation of the sea bed and ocean floor remain, scientists, reacting to the population explosion, hold that solutions will have to be found and progress made in answer to mankind's need of tomorrow."

Seabrook Hull of the 'Minneapolis Star and Tribune' reported in 1968, "There are more big rivers in the ocean than there are ashore. In fact, the ocean is a complex system of rivers, some of them moving more water past a given point in one day than 3,000 Mississippis. The ocean rivers bring semi-tropical climates to far nothern latitudes and moderate the extreme temperatures of the Earth's equatorial belt.

"They produce 'ocean lands' rich in bird and marine life, and they produce virtual ocean deserts. They course the surface of the great ocean basins in wide swirling patterns – while just below, a few hundred or a couple of thousand feet down – there are other, deep rivers just as big, just as numerous but traveling in exactly the opposite direction.

"There are waterfalls, ocean rivers that plunge into the abyssal depths of the sea – and upside down waterfalls, ocean currents flowing upwards that bring deep, cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface. And, there are underwater; and slides – violent mixes of churning water, mud and rock – that plunge down the continental slopes. These destroy everything in their path and are called turbidity currents.

"The ocean rivers are the currents of the ocean, a vital element in making the sea the way it is and, in turn, the whole world capable of supporting life as we know it. In the ages when sail was supreme, these currents enabled ships with seawise skippers to cut days, even weeks, off their voyages. It was an ocean current, too, that placed an iceberg in the path of the trans-Atlantic liner, the Titanic.

"Ocean currents, mainly, are responsible for the dense seasonal fogs off the Grand Banks (near Canada). And ocean currents enabled German U-boats to sneak in and out of the Mediterranean undetected throughout World War II – much to the amazement and consternation of Allied Forces listening and watching at the Strait of Gibraltar.

"It wasn't until after the end of the war that they learned from captured German records that the U-boats were using the ocean currents that flow through the Strait – in one side and out the other. The U-boats simply ballasted themselves for neutral buoyancy at the desired depth, positioned themselves in the proper current and drifted through.

"There are many factors responsible for ocean currents and the paths they follow, their speed, their constancy (or inconstancy), their chemical and physical properties, their attractiveness to marine life, and their relatively high independence of the body of water through which they pass. Ocean rivers travel thousands of miles, retaining their own identifying characteristics of temperature, salinity, and oxygen content, mixing very little with the water of the ocean through which they pass.

"The ocean rivers are produced, maintained and directed by such diverse forces as the rotation of the Earth; the freezing and melting of polar ice; the action of the sun in warming the water; the action of the atmosphere in warming and cooling the water; the wind; and, of course, the continental land masses, the islands and ocean floor terrain that shape the sedges and bottom of the ocean.

"It is also important that surface water get to the bottom. If it did not there would be no life there at all, other than bacteria that work on the wastes of the water column above. These bacteria need no oxygen. But everything else living does, and the only place the ocean water can get oxygen is at or near the surface. By far the greatest portion of the ocean's oxygen, however, is absorbed from the atmosphere.

"Therefore there must be a constant exchange of water between the surface and the deep ocean floor. The principle of this exchange is very simple: Heavier water sinks, while water lighter than the surrounding water rises. Water is made heavier by cooling it and/or by increasing its salinity. It is made light by warming it and/or reducing its salinity.

"The Mediterranean Sea has many rivers flowing into it and along its northern and west sides, at least, enjoys a normal amount of rain. However, the evaporation of water by the sun exceeds the total combined input of all of these sources. Its water must, therefore, be continually replaced. And, the only place that water can come from is the Atlantic. So, there is a continual inflow of Atlantic water through the Strait of Gibraltar. That accounts for the in-going current ridden by the German U-boats.

"Remember now, however, that evaporation exceeds the inflow of fresh water from other sources. So, the water of the Mediterranean is always getting saltier. Saltier water is heavier water, and it sinks. Gradually, as in the Arctic Ocean, the Mediterranean basin fills up with this heavier, saltier water until it is high enough to overflow the comparatively shallow shelf at Gibraltar. This it does, and it flows out along the bottom into the Atlantic, thus providing the U-boats with their outward-going current.

"These, then, are the major forces and influences at work producing and perpetuating the manifold currents of the ever-moving sea. They give us a good qualitative view of the world ocean river system. There is one other kind of current – the turbidity current. Suppose that off the mouth of a large river mud and silt and gravel build along the edge of the continental slope or a canyon in the ocean floor until, one day, the overhang becomes unstable and falls into the abyss.

"Or suppose an earthquake sets off an underwater landslide and mud and stones and boulders start rolling down the slope. Quickly this landslide mixes totally with the water through which it passes, and you have a very turbulent mix of watermade very heavy by the mud and stones rolling around in it. The turbidity current may reach high speeds and is very destructive. Scientists have no real way of measuring them, since they would destroy almost any instruments put in their paths.

"However, in 1927, an undersea earthquake in the vicinity of the Grand Banks set off a turbidity current that broke successively, one after another, a number of undersea telegraph cable. Operators of the cables, of course, knew exactly when the cables broke. And, they knew the distance from one cable to the next. Thus, they were able to calculate the speed at which the turbidity current moved down the oceanic slope. It was 60 miles per hour."

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