800-Foot-Deep Canyon Found Under Red Sea

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Watch your step, Moses. Anyone attempting to walk across the floor of the Red Sea might fall into the 820-foot-deep canyon that was recently discovered by a British navy ship.

A 3-D map of the canyon was produced using a multi-beam echo sounder attached to the hull of the HMS Enterprise, according to a UK Ministry of Defense news report. The mapping equipment functions like sonar. It bounces sound waves off the ocean floor and uses the echoes to create an image of the bottom of the sea.

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“These features could be the result of ancient rivers scouring through the rock strata before the Red Sea flooded millennia ago,” said Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise, Derek Rae, in the UK Ministry of Defense news report.

“Some may be far younger — and still in the process of being created by underwater currents driven by the winds and tidal streams as they flow through this area of the Red Sea, carving their way through the soft sediment and being diverted by harder bed rock. Or there is always the possibility that they are a combination of the two.”

The HMS Enterprise found the hidden canyon after leaving the Egyptian port of Safaga, 250 miles south of Suez. The ship will continue mapping the region until summer, as well as aid in anti-piracy efforts.

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Grand-Canyon-sized crevasses aren’t the only massive geographic features recently found beneath the waves. Evidence of a lost continent beneath the Indian Ocean was released this week as well.

Photo: The Red Sea, the Nile River is in the lower left. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

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