Nature Two telecommunication cables cut off at the bottom of the ocean – The cause of the largest underwater landslide ever observed

The landslide, which began at the mouth of the Congo River, covered more than a thousand kilometers and cut off two telecommunications cables on its way.

Last in January, two submarine communication cables suddenly broke off on the west side of the African continent. A huge underwater landslide has been revealed to be the cause of the cable break.

The landslide began at the mouth of the Congo River and ran along an underwater canyon, carrying mud and sand for more than a thousand kilometers into the Atlantic Ocean, says the British University of Hull research.

According to the researchers, this was the largest underwater landslide ever observed.

As a result, many states in the interior, west and south of Africa were in pain for some time with slow network connections. They reported on the matter at the time, for example Business Insider and Africanews.

Congo River the landslide that began at the mouth was caused by the flooding of the river, according to researchers.

The avalanche that ran along the submarine Congo Canyon eventually reached, up to 1,200 kilometers. The speed of the landslide peaked at over eight meters per second.

In addition to cutting telecommunication cables, the landslide also detached numerous submarine research equipment that managed to measure the speed of the landslide, according to the researchers.

Investigators speculate that the case would probably have gone unnoticed if the avalanche had not damaged the cables and research equipment by the time it went.

Underwater the landslide was a turbidite flow that According to the Science Term Bank means a mass flow in which the vortex flow of the liquid supports the substance.

Interviewed by the BBC Professor at Durham University Peter Tallingin according to the avalanche moved along the seabed at an accelerating pace.

“Because the flow consumes the seabed as it moves, it carries with it sand and mud, which makes the flow denser and ever faster,” Talling says.

Towards the end of December 2019, the Congo River flooded most severely in 50 years. Due to the flooding, a large amount of mud and sand flowed from the river into the sea. In January, after the floods, the tide was exceptionally strong.

“We believe the turbidite flow originated during the low tide,” a professor at the University of Hull Dan Parsons tells the BBC.

As the water level drops and the pressure on the seabed decreases, loose mud and sand set in motion. Rising water levels could trigger a chain reaction, as happened in the Congo River Canyon in January.

Researchers based on data from gauges, the landslide hit the lowest device in the canyon on January 14th.

The avalanche of the last measuring device anchored to a depth of 4,500 meters reached almost two days later.

Broken communication cables have since been repaired.

The submarine telecommunication cable network is of great importance from the point of view of international connections. As many as 99 percent of all data passes through it, the BBC tells.

Researchers according to the canyon study may be of great significance for what kind of cables will be used in the future. Some of them seem to withstand consumption better than others.

Research can also find better landing sites for cables and better locations for cable repair vessels.



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