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Why the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans Don't Mix

When you look at the seas and oceans on the map you might think that they just flow into each other. It seems like there’s only one big ocean, and people just gave different names to its parts. Well, you will be amazed at how vivid the borders between them are. The border between the pacific and Atlantic oceans is like a line between 2 worlds. It looks as if the two oceans meet at an invisible wall that does not let them flow into each other and mix their water.

Why on earth does it happen?

We know for sure there is no invisible wall inside and water is water.

What could interfere with its mixing?

The thing is that water can be different too. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans have different densities and chemical makeup. The level of salinity and other qualities. One can see by their color that they are far from being the same. The borders between two bodies of water with different physical and biological characteristics are known as ocean clines.


Haloclines – borders between water with different salinity are the most spectacular, and this is what we see when the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet.

The famous explorer Jacques Cousteau found this when he was deep diving in the strait of Gibraltar.

The layers of water with different salinity looked like they were divided with a transparent film and each layer had its own flora and fauna. Haloclines appear when water in one ocean or sea is at least 5 times saltier than in the other.

You can create a halocline at home if you pour some seawater or colored salt water into a glass and then add some fresh water on top of it. The only difference is that haloclines will be horizontal and ocean haloclines are vertical.

If you remember a couple of basic things from physics you might argue that a denser liquid should finally end up lower and less dense higher. If that were true the border between the two oceans would look not like a vertical line but like a horizontal one and the difference between their salinity would become less obvious the closer they got to each other.

So why doesn’t it happen here?

Well first the difference in density of water of the two oceans is not that great for one of them to get down and the other to rise up. And yet it’s enough not to let them mix.

 

Still, another reason is inertia

One of the inertial forces known as the Coriolis force influences objects when they are moving in the system of axes which in its turn is moving too. In simple words, the earth is moving and all the moving objects on it will be acted upon by Coriolis force, deviating from their course. As a result, the objects on the earth's surface don’t move straight on but deviate in clockwise order in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern. But the earth is moving slowly, it takes the planet a whole day to make a full circle around its axis. That’s why the Coriolis Effect gets obvious only in long time intervals with cyclones and ocean flows.

And this is why the direction of flows in the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean is different. It also doesn’t let them mix.

Another important difference between the two ocean’s water is the strength of molecules connection or surface tensile strength. Thanks to this strength molecules of matter hold to each other. The two oceans have totally different surface tensile strengths and it also doesn’t let them mix. Maybe they could gradually start mixing with time but as the flows in them have opposite directions they just don’t have time to do this. We think that it’s just water in both oceans but its separate molecules meet for just a short moment and then get carried away with the ocean flow.

 

Don’t you think though that only the Atlantic and Pacific oceans don’t get on well with each other? There are a lot of places on the planet where water in the two seas or rivers does not mix.

 

There are also thermoclines border between water of different temperatures like the warm water of the Gulf Stream and the much colder North Atlantic Ocean.

 

Chemo clines are the most amazing ones. These are borders between water having different microclimate and chemical makeup. The Sargasso Sea is the biggest and most widely known chemo cline. It is a sea within the Atlantic Ocean that has no shores but you have got no chance not to notice it.

So I hope you got some information from Easy Hack for Bright Life. Write down your comment below. Thank you.

#oceans #rivers #Atlanticocean #Pacificocean #boardersbetweenseas
 

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