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What causes fresh-water springs in the ocean?

Fresh-water springs in the ocean have been noted by travelers and navigators for centuries. In fact the, existence of such ocean springs has been known since the time of the ancient Phoenicians, who were noted for their knowledge of navigation and their long voyages. Most of these springs are caused by underground streams with preponderating heads that discharge their waters into the ocean beneath the surface. The fresh water rises to the surface because of its relative specific lightness. Such springs occur only in coastal waters and never in mid-ocean. There are several of these submarine river outlets in the sea near Cuba. There is another about two and a half miles east of Crescent Beach near St. Augustine. So much fresh water rises up through the salt water that it produces a noticeable bubble. A submarine artesian well in the Gulf of Mexico fourteen miles off Biloxi, Mississippi, spouts fresh water up into the salt water. This artesian well wag formerly on the Isle of Caprice, which was destroyed by the waters of the Gulf. Some submarine springs discharge hot water. Ocean springs of this type investigated by French scientists, who used diving apparatus, consist of funnel-shaped orifices in the solid rock on the bottom of the sea. They project streams of water with sufficient force to carry small stones to the surface. Others consist of many small openings that bubble up enough to form a current of considerable volume. Most submarine springs, however, discharge cold water. Of course, fresh water discharged from a submarine source generally is mixed with salt water before jt Beaches the surface. The natives of Bahrein Islands in the Persian Gulf and of certain South Sea islands dive to. the bottom and scoop up fresh water into bags from submarine springs before it is contaminated with salt water. At the mouth of the Amazon a layer of fresh water flows for miles over the denser sea water. Wrote Abby Dimnet in The Art of Thinking: “The Spanish crew who were becalmed in the ocean, off the mouth of the Amazon River, could not believe the natives signaling that the water all round their ship was good to drink and they had only to throw down the buckets.”

Posted by on March 19, 2010.

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