In 2015, scientists at the University of Washington discovered a rift in the Pacific Ocean. It is located more than 1100 kilometers off the coast and extends from northern California to the province of British Columbia in Canada. It was named the Pythias Oasis, and a leaky crack was recently discovered there that can trigger an earthquake of up to 9 on the Richter scale.
Pythias Oasis rift worries scientists.
According to researchers, this leak is the first time it has been observed in the ocean. It emits fluids whose temperature is 9 °C warmer than seawater. They analyzed the chemical composition of the fluids and it was determined that it contains boron and lithium, with a depletion in chloride, potassium and magnesium. The analysis report was conducted by the Regional Cabled Array Ocean Observatories.
The Washington scientists concluded that the fluids are formed by compaction of seawater and dehydration of minerals at a temperature between 150° and 250°. According to the scientific journal Science Advances, the crack, which is located within the Cascadia submarine fault, is of extremely high imminent seismic risk. It is also located in the subduction zone of two other dangerous plates, the North American plate and the Juan de Fuca plate.
According to scientists, the Pythias Oasis fault is like a single spring four kilometers below the sea surface and regulates offshore tectonic plate stresses. However, there is concern about the leakage which is described as a tectonic lubricant.
Experts say that if the fluid pressure increases, it means that there is less friction and there is a chance that the plates will slide. If the fluid pressure decreases, the plates lock together and can build up tension.
Pacific coastal countries on alert
An earthquake triggered by this crack, could cause a disaster affecting the entire Cascadia fault. Such an earthquake could reach 9 on the Richter scale and affect coastal countries along the entire Pacific. Mainly, those located on the coast of South America.
For the study, an underwater robot called Ropos was used. It followed the path to the strange opening in the ocean floor where the fluids and sediments rich in methane gas gushed out. A large hole, several meters deep, was found in the area.
The Pythias Oasis rift is located 80 kilometers from Newport, Oregon, in the United States.