In a region in the Indian Ocean, gravity is noticeably weak. The research duo now wants to discover how the “gravitational hole” formed.
BANGALORE – There is no uniform gravity on Earth because the Earth is not perfectly spherical. They are very similar in shape to potatoes, as seen in the so-called “Potsdam potatoes”. Different regions on Earth experience slightly varying gravitational forces, and this is due to the uneven distribution of mass within the Earth. Places with particularly low gravity are called “gravity holes”. Earth’s lowest gravity occurs in a remote area of the Indian Ocean known as the Indian Ocean Geoid Low (IOGL).
According to Attreyee Ghosh, a geophysicist at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, the sea floor in the IOGL is 106 meters below average because gravity there is less than the surrounding area. Low gravity in this region of the Indian Ocean has long been a mystery to researchers, but Ghosh and his colleague Dipanjan Pal now claim to have solved the mystery.
Gravity hole in the Indian Ocean caused by hot magma flows
The two researchers at the International Institute of Ismaili Studies (IISc) have a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters published, where they reconstructed 140 million years of tectonic plate movement. Their research shows that an ancient ocean plate submerged beneath the African continent caused the formation of hot, low-intensity magma flows. This material accumulated in the area of the Indian Ocean where the gravitational hole is located today. Atreee Ghosh explains Compared with the Scientific American: “What we’re seeing is hot, low-density material sitting under the Indian Ocean creating this low-lying geode.”
An accurate knowledge of the geoid, the distribution of gravity on Earth, is important not only to science, but also to accurately determining altitude using a Global Positioning System (GPS). Using accurate geoid data, scientists can, for example, accurately measure ocean circulation or changes in sea level. Thus knowledge of geodes has far-reaching applications.
Weak gravity will persist in the Indian Ocean for millions of years
According to the researchers, the gravitational hole in the Indian Ocean has existed in its current form for about 20 million years and is expected to remain so for the next several million years. Baal is convinced that the gravitational hole will not disintegrate until the temperature anomalies responsible for its formation move away from its current locations.
Machine assistance was used in this editorial article. The article was carefully screened by editor Tanya Banner before it was published.
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