Scientists say a deep canyon feeds Puget Sound

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on April 14, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 15 at 10:32 AM

SEATTLE - University of Washington researchers said they are astounded by the volume of deep sea water that is flowing through an underwater canyon at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. They say it’s enough to fill Century Link Field every second.  Twenty to 30 times more water comes up through that canyon than all of the rivers and streams that feed Puget Sound combined.  

Scientists at the UW School of Applied Sciences said today that results from a machine they lowered into the canyon on a research mission last year, measured those massive flows. They describe it as an underwater river as big as the Columbia and Amazon combined that flows uphill from the depths of the Pacific and into the Strait.

Their studies also identified the flow triggers giant underwater waves, as big as skyscrapers that roll through the Strait churning and mixing up nutrients that help feed the Puget Sound’s unusually large shellfish populations.

It also brings some unwelcome elements like low oxygen and high acid levels that are blamed for some fish die offs. But it is a naturally occurring event that has shaped Puget Sound and now that scientists understand it better, they can better understand how it affects the underwater world.

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