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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Ancient Underwater Forest Uncovered

Ancient Underwater Forest Uncovered

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, July 6, 2017/Categories: natural history, video, sustainability, environment, climate change

                      60,000 Year Old Forest Uncovered in Gulf of Mexico  (credit: Alabama.com)

An ancient forest, from a era when continental glaciation created a vastly different coastal shoreline and climate, was recently discovered by fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico. The underwater forest had been uncovered by a massive hurricane that gouged the seafloor exposing the ancient trees. According to Alabama news reports:

"the forest lay buried beneath Gulf sediments for eons, until giant waves driven by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 uncovered it. Ivan raged through the Gulf as a Category 5 hurricane with winds pushed the largest waves ever measured, reaching almost 100 feet tall, as measured by a cluster government data buoys far offshore."

Investigators from Louisiana State University and the University of Southern Mississippi are conducting initial research on the discovery of bald cypress trees (Taxodium species) found sixty feet underwater. Bald Cypress still grow along the coasts and inland rivers of the Southeastern from Texas to Florida today. The relic forest is the first of its kind to be discovered underwater.

Hurricane Ivan exposed the ancient cypress stumps, trunks, limbs, and roots in an amazing level of preservation. Sap still oozed from the wood when sawed open. Tree-cored wood and charcoal were sampled and analyzed by radiocarbon methods to determine the age when the trees grew along a riverbank and shoreline. The forest had lived more than 60,000 years ago, when sea levels were nearly 400 feet lower, and the climate was far different from today's.

The story of the underwater forest discoveries is explained in a video produced the research investigators and the divers themselves.

The data and information being compiled from the forest relics provides important insight into landscape and sea level changes that could be expected as climate change continues rapidly to unfold today.

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