Scientists Use Whale Songs to Reveal Sea Floor’s Hidden Features

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Scientists are getting major assistance on learning the sea floor from the most unexpected characters- fin whales.

The fin whale’s song is one of the loudest sounds made by animals, and audible over vast ocean distances.Their soundwaves also penetrate the Earth and scientists are working out how to use this to explore the thickness of ocean sediment.

Fin whales are lesser known than the humpbacks and blue whales. But these incredible creatures have an astonishing turn of speed. Like other great whales, the males sing complex melodies to attract mates, at frequencies too low for humans to hear.

Using these songs recorded at three stations, scientists compared the soundwaves that traveled to the stations and those that penetrated the seafloor to become seismic waves. The seismic waves bounced on boundaries between basalt, sediments and lower crust, before reaching the stations. The delay in waves’ arrival reveals the thickness of each layer.


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