Oceanographers have discovered a broad, almost-bare patch of seafloor in the remote South Pacific. An unusual combination of circumstances has left the region without the mineral and organic sediments hundreds of meters deep that are typical elsewhere in the world's oceans, the scientists say.
The sediment-poor region is about the size of the Mediterranean Sea and centered approximately 4,000 kilometers east of New Zealand. Researchers discovered the area, which they dubbed the South Pacific Bare Zone, during a cruise early last year, says David K. Rea, a marine geologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The scientists were surprised when their seismic equipment, which detects sediment only when it's at least 5 meters thick, indicated that there was n