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Gulf of Mexico home to deadly ‘jacuzzi of despair’

An image from the ROV Hercules aboard the Nautilus shows a brine pool with walls made up of barite.
An image from the ROV Hercules aboard the Nautilus shows a brine pool with walls made up of barite. NOAA

Scientists say they have found a lake at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, but it may not be a conducive environment for most lifeforms.

According to “Oceanography,” a journal by Temple University associate professor of biology Erik Cordes, the lake is made of brine and has a salinity level of about five times that of its surrounding waters.

“At some seep sites, deep within the sediments, the interaction of pore water and salt results in a highly saline fluid (brine) that can be more than four times more saline than seawater,” Corrodes said in his journal. “ When this brine is expelled from the sediments, it is far denser than the overlying seawater and does not mix very easily with it.”

Cordes deemed the pool the “jacuzzi of despair” because of its warm temperature of almost 65 degrees.

The pool is about 12 feet deep and 100 feet in circumference. It is located more than 3,300 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

But the high salinity level isn’t the only thing that would prevent life from thriving in the lake.

Cordes said high levels of methane and sulfide.

Because of the combination of both a high saline content and toxic chemicals, most living things that pass through the lake die.

“We observed large dead isopods and crabs that had been preserved along the edge of the brine pool,” Cordes said.

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