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No. 42: Nov-Dec 1985

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Sand dunes 3 kilometers down

Side-scan sonar systems are excellent for mapping the major geological features of the sea floor. Some of the scenery revealed by this sonar challenges conventional geological wisdom. To illustrate, the British ship Farnella has been mapping the floor of the Gulf of Mexico with its GLORIA II side-scan sonar. Hundreds of new salt domes, submarine channels, and landslides have been recorded. A big surprise was the discovery of large fields of sand dunes in 3000 meters of water. Similar dune fields were found in the Pacific in 1984. G. Hill, of the U.S. Geological Survey has ventured, "There's something going on in deep water that people just aren't aware of. " ("A Systematic Sounding of the Sea Floor, " Science News, 128:191, 1985.) (At issue here is how sand dunes are formed in such deep water. Are they the consequence of colossal bottom currents, perhaps set in motion by huge earthquakes of some other natural catastrophe ? Is it possible (gasp!) that the dunes were not formed under water at all ? The area involved also boasts salt layers and submarine channels and canyons, both of which are not well-explained. WRC)

From Science Frontiers #42, NOV-DEC 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987