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Friday, September 22, 2023

Indian Scientists Solve the ‘Gravity Hole’ Mystery in the Indian Ocean

This gravitational oddity IOGL has baffled scientists for years

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Russell Chattaraj
Russell Chattaraj
Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

INDIA: Gravity hole mystery solved! A team of brilliant Indian scientists from the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore has successfully unraveled the perplexing phenomenon of the massive “gravity hole” that looms over the Indian Ocean. This gravitational oddity, known as the Indian Ocean Geoid Low (IOGL), has baffled scientists for years, but a recent groundbreaking study clarifies its nature and origins.

The IOGL is a remarkable gravitational peculiarity covering an extensive area of more than three million square kilometers. It manifests as an area where gravity is significantly lower than the global average, causing the sea level to plunge approximately 106 meters below the typical oceanic levels at that location. While the presence of such anomalies is not uncommon in the scientific world, the scale and prominence of the IOGL make it Earth’s most prominent gravitational anomaly.

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The group of talented scientists, led by Debanjan Pal and Attreyee Ghosh, embarked on a journey to investigate the mystery behind the IOGL. Their findings, published in Geophysical Research papers, reveal that the gravity hole’s genesis lies deep within the Earth’s mantle beneath the Indian Ocean.

To decipher the enigma, the researchers reconstructed the last 140 million years of plate tectonic movements, a task requiring a remarkable level of precision and attention to detail. They also harnessed the power of cutting-edge computer simulations to trace the origin and evolution of the gravity hole.

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The study revealed that certain sections of tectonic plates beneath the African continent had plunged into the Earth’s mantle over millennia. As a result of this process, plumes emerged from beneath the Indian Ocean, playing a critical role in the formation of the IOGL. These plumes, coupled with the specific mantle structure in the vicinity of the geoid low, gave rise to this negative geoid anomaly, resulting in the pronounced gravity hole we observe today.

The lead author, Debanjan Pal, states that “we assimilate plate reconstruction in global mantle convection models starting from 140 Ma and show that sinking Tethyan slabs perturbed the African Large Low Shear Velocity province and generated plumes beneath the Indian Ocean, which led to the formation of this negative geoid anomaly.”

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The location and configuration of the IOGL have been affected by the intricate interaction of various geological processes beneath the Indian Ocean. It is believed that the gravity hole attained its current configuration approximately 20 million years ago when the plumes began to disperse within the upper mantle. Furthermore, the researchers surmise that the IOGL will persist as long as the flow of mantle material continues.

Nevertheless, the scientists also speculate that the IOGL’s existence might not be eternal. If temperature anomalies cause the geoid low to shift from its present location, it will likely dissipate, bringing this intriguing geological phenomenon to an end.

The discovery of the IOGL’s origin marks a significant milestone in the realm of geophysics and plate tectonics. The researchers’ groundbreaking work has not only demystified one of the Earth’s most prominent gravitational anomalies but also provided valuable insights into the dynamic nature of our planet’s geological history.

As scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of the natural world, the findings from this study serve as a testament to the power of human curiosity, perseverance, and scientific innovation. With each revelation, our understanding of the Earth and its complex systems takes another leap forward, leaving us awe-inspired by the wonders that lie both beneath and above the surface of our beautiful planet.

Also Read: Astronomers Discover Amino Acid Tryptophan in Star-Birthing Region, Hints at Potential for Life


  • Russell Chattaraj

    Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

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