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Deep Sea Impacts

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Chapter Summary

The deep sea is the largest, continuous ecological unit on earth. Anthropogenic impacts in the deep sea deserve serious consideration and international legal regulation. During late 1986, scientists analyzing corer samples from the Norwegian Sea for radiocesium found high levels of radionuclides Cs134 and Cs137. Bioturbation had carried this material about 10mm into the sediment. Organic matter may have scavenged the cesium and fast-sinking aggregates may have transported the material to the seafloor. In contrast to the non-visible substances in the sea, visible contamination ranges from items of small litter thrown overboard by seamen and tourists to regular ocean disposal using the deep sea as a repository. Drums with radioactive wastes, lost nuclear submarines, ammunition dumping and shipwrecks in the deep sea together offer an arsenal of "experimental" facilities which should be used to answer basic questions on the ecology of the deep sea.

Keywords: conscious contamination; deep sea impacts; non-visible contamination; organic matter



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