Ancient Ocean Found Under Chesapeake Bay
Huge crater helped preserve salty sea
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2013 3:50 AM CST
Updated Nov 24, 2013 9:04 AM CST
This map shows the impact area of the asteroid 35 million years ago.   (United States Geological Survey)

(Newser) – The remains of a salty ocean ancient enough for dinosaurs to have drowned in it have been found deep in the sediment under the Chesapeake Bay. The seawater—believed to be 100 to 150 million years old—was isolated, trapped a half-mile underground, and preserved with the help of an asteroid that smashed into the area around 35 million years ago, creating a huge crater. The watery fossil holds around 3 trillion gallons, and is "the oldest large body of ancient seawater in the world," according to government hydrologists who made the amazing find while mapping the ancient crater under Virginia's Cape Charles. "We weren't looking for ancient seawater," the lead researcher tells the Washington Post, calling the find "surprising."

The underground seawater, twice as salty as that found in today's oceans, comes from a time when "the Atlantic was a smaller ocean," the lead researcher tells NPR. "It had only been in existence for about 50 million years and it was isolated from the rest of the world's oceans. It had its own salinity and its salinity was changing at a different rate and by different amounts from the rest of the global oceans." But while the distinct chemical signature of the Cretaceous-era ocean has been preserved, the remnants are scattered among countless cracks and pores, meaning any ancient ocean life is very unlikely to have survived. (A similar find from this week: An ancient city was discovered under Biblical-era ruins.)

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Ezekiel 25:17
Nov 24, 2013 5:49 PM CST
Twice as salty as that found in today's oceans, 35 million years old. Could easily be an argument for warming worshipers except the timeline is a bit off. Since we've had four measurable warming/cooling cycles in 420,000 years, along with the melting of the poles, its hard to pin this one finding to any of today's ecological zealots. Then what confounds the warming worshipers is the meteor strike that created the whole thing. We can't have significant external actors messing up our locally created movements.
Numberdude
Nov 24, 2013 11:37 AM CST
Does anyone know where the oceans came from in the first place? I've heard it's from comets that crashed into Earth, but I'm not sure of that.
Hard Little Machine
Nov 23, 2013 4:17 PM CST
If you like your prehistoric ocean you can keep it.