Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Deep Sixed
June 8, 2013 6:58 AM   Subscribe

In the deep sea, low oxygen levels, scarce sunlight, and freezing water limit the rate at which items decompose: Something that might survive a few years on land could exist for decades underwater. - ROVs photograph trash on the ocean floor.
posted by Artw (37 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not to make light of this as a problem, but I kind of love that single chair, all by itself, perfectly ready for sitting, where not even a diver ever could sit.

The Coors can looks about 35 years old.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:11 AM on June 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


To be honest, it reminds me of the old 'Treasure Chest in a fishtank' motif.

The flora and fauna seem to be adjusting quite well.
posted by Sphinx at 7:26 AM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't you know that when the Old Ones rise, that chair is going to be the only place for supplication?
posted by Katemonkey at 7:31 AM on June 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm shocked that these objects are perfectly intact at that depth. My brain just keeps saying, "No! They should all be squashed by the water pressure." I just can't fathom it.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 7:36 AM on June 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm really surprised the cardboard is still intact.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:39 AM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have this 20-year-old disintegrating ball cap that my wife wants me to get rid of... I've been working up a silly idea that I'd give it a big sendoff by throwing it into the ocean on a trip we're taking in a few weeks. I was already getting second thoughts about the ocean not needing my hat pollution; this cements that feeling.
posted by COBRA! at 7:42 AM on June 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


We're number one!
posted by Mezentian at 7:42 AM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometime in the '90s, I saw a picture of a 1954 newspaper, excavated from a landfill, still intact and readable. It had been so deeply buried that it couldn't decompose; there was nothing to break it up or expose it to the right kind of disintegrating action. I suppose the same thing is true of the cardboard.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:43 AM on June 8, 2013


What a nasty, filthy species we have become.
posted by Jode at 7:49 AM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That really is awful. I hope the ROV's mum gave it a bag to put the trash into.
posted by arcticseal at 7:52 AM on June 8, 2013


Check out this web gallery, found ten years below the surface of the internet.
Also, that thing growing on the cardboard is so cool. The cardboard is not, though. The sea floor is pretty much as groovy as Mars.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:56 AM on June 8, 2013


I just can't fathom it.

I see what you did there.
posted by pointystick at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


"No! They should all be squashed by the water pressure."

They're filled with water of the same pressure.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 AM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a nasty, filthy species we have become.

Become? Twas ever thus. You do realize that a lot of what we know of the habits of our far-off ancestors comes from studying the junk they discarded?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:29 AM on June 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by drezdn at 8:36 AM on June 8, 2013


As a rule, materials don't fail from hydrostatic pressure (i.e., equitriaxial stress, or pressure from all directions). They become denser, but they don't come apart. Instead, ductile materials fail from deviatoric stress (a 3-D generalization of shear) and brittle materials fail from tensile stress (pulling rather than pushing).
posted by Mapes at 8:53 AM on June 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Next up on Lake Dredge Appraisal... So far I don't see 100 iPhones, but the melancholy of that chair would fit right in.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:59 AM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The lead and other chemicals leach into the food chain and are magnified at the top (humans). Best to eat seafood that is short-lived and low on the food chain.
posted by stbalbach at 9:11 AM on June 8, 2013


Become? Twas ever thus. You do realize that a lot of what we know of the habits of our far-off ancestors comes from studying the junk they discarded?
As they say, "archeology is rubbish".
posted by Jehan at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Best to eat seafood that is short-lived and low on the food chain.

Plankton, then?
posted by jon1270 at 9:47 AM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I doubt I will ever make anything as pretty as that little octopus.
posted by Teakettle at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Am I the only one wondering if there was anything in that shipping container?
posted by SisterHavana at 11:21 AM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The pirate/hoarder/amateur archeologist in me wants really, really badly to see pictures from some of the inland seas and harbors. Can you imagine the fascinating things that have fallen to the bottom of the Mediterranean, Red, Black, Adriatic and Aegean seas? I might have to buy me an underwater drone.

I just can't fathom it.

I loathe you. Expertly done, sir or madam!
posted by gjc at 11:52 AM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


gjc: That would be awesome. Or possibly some really old deep-sea harbours.
posted by Canageek at 12:12 PM on June 8, 2013


I have gone down to the ocean floor (about 2 miles down) in the submersible Alvin a number of times to study mid-ocean ridge hot springs. One time we were looking for a site that had been previously named "Heineken". And we knew we were getting close when I spotted a Heineken beer can sitting their all by itself on the mud. So the seafloor trash can be a navigation aid I guess.

As a rule, materials don't fail from hydrostatic pressure (i.e., equitriaxial stress, or pressure from all directions). They become denser, but they don't come apart.

A tradition on Alvin dives is to decorate styrofoam cups and then place them in a fish-net bag attached to the outside of the vehicle. At 4 km down the hydrostatic pressure is about 400x greater than surface pressure and the cups shrink.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:42 PM on June 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


I have gone down to the ocean floor (about 2 miles down) in the submersible Alvin a number of times

I'm not sure which is stronger, my envy or the feeling of my testicles trying to shrink back into my body at the horror of being in a little tin can 2 miles down with all that water pressure trying to kill me.
posted by localroger at 1:20 PM on June 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was nervous the 1st time. But I just kept reminding myself that in almost 50 years of operation, a life has never been lost on an Alvin dive (but there have been a few close calls).
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 1:38 PM on June 8, 2013


I almost think the environmental devastation is worth it just for that one perfect octopus.
posted by Riki tiki at 3:34 PM on June 8, 2013


I've done the styrofoam cup thing by attaching them to CTDs. I'm really jealous of anyone who's been down in Alvin.

My favorite deep sea "trash" is whale falls. Such a small amount of nutrients make it to the deep seafloor that when a whale carcass sinks it supports scavengers for years and a microbial ecosystem for decades.
posted by edeezy at 3:41 PM on June 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


In the short term these are the fascinating archaeological finds of the late third millennium. In the longer term they're very perplexing marine fossils for whatever species evolves paleontologists after us.
posted by Long Way To Go at 5:21 PM on June 8, 2013


Fucking tires. I once spent an afternoon on a local trash pick up along a one-mile stretch of the Shenandoah dredging eight or ten steel-belted radials out of the river into a rowboat. And a refrigerator that probably got washed off someone's porch. Before the barnacle-encrusted tires could be picked up from the boat landing someone dumped another dozen on the pile.

Beer cans were all right. They recycle and sometimes you'd find an unopened one. River beer! MmmKah!
posted by steef at 5:36 PM on June 8, 2013


My first commercial dive in the ocean was just outside of Cameron, Louisiana, in about twenty feet of muddy water.
I jumped off the stern of the Blue Streak No. 14, a tiny jackup boat we were working from, and landed on the bottom.
As I pulled the downline taut and began to slog across the sea floor towards the pipeline we were working on, I began to realize I was walking on a carpet of trash. Bottles, bags, and cans.
posted by atchafalaya at 7:11 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


they're very perplexing marine fossils for whatever species evolves paleontologists after us.

I have often wondered to what extend our refuse will be preserved in the rock record. Maybe finding the remains of a plastic chair in a sedimentary rock layer derived from deep sea mud won't be too much of a problem for the future geologists. They will say "chair dumped off ship". When we find cobbles of granite mixed in with deep sea mud very far from any continental source today we often use the same kind of argument: "granite cobble was carried by iceberg and was dropped to the seafloor when iceberg melted".
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:39 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the fact that when the Alvin sank in October 1968 (with no casualties), a cheese sandwich which was sunk inside the craft was actually eaten after Alvin's recovery in 1969.
posted by ambrosen at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the story of eating the swordfish that attacked the Alvin.
posted by arcticseal at 12:22 PM on June 9, 2013


One gets the impression that there isn't much the Woods Hole guys won't eat.
posted by localroger at 1:22 PM on June 9, 2013


I'm not sure which is stronger, my envy or the feeling of my testicles trying to shrink back into my body at the horror of being in a little tin can 2 miles down with all that water pressure trying to kill me.

Doesn't want to kill you, wants you to come out and play.
posted by tilde at 9:05 AM on June 12, 2013


« Older They told you not to enter. You, an explorer didn...  |  Short documentary film (SLNYT)... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments