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pushcore sediment sample from Urania Basin in Mediterranean Sea

History, Written in Mud

A sediment sample in a push core taken from the upper reaches of a deep, hypersaline, anoxic basin (DHAB) hints at a complex history for the 3,000 to 35,000 year-old basin. The dark top layer, which contains hydrogen sulfide and smells like rotten eggs, indicates that oxygen is not present. The older, light brown layer below it indicates that oxygen was present when those sediments formed. This DHAB was one of three such basins explored during a WHOI-led cruise in late 2011. The sediment samples were collected by the remotely operated vehicle Jason, under the supervision of geobiologist Joan Bernhard.

(Photo courtesy of ROV Jason team, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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