April 2010 Archives

The Zanclean Flood

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Periodically throughout history the Mediterranean Sea has been closed off from the Atlantic Ocean by the continued northward movement of the African Tectonic Plate into the Eurasian Tectonic Plate. When this happens the Mediterranean Sea slowly begins to evaporate. Over the course of a thousand years or so it dries out nearly completely.

This produces a huge desert that is 3-5 km below sea level. Possibly some incredibly salty lakes also. Near the bottom the air pressure would be about 150% of that at sea level and the adiabatically heated air would have reached 80°C (176 °F) in the summer. This set of circumstances is known as The Messinian Salinity Crisis.

About 5.3 million years ago this crisis came to an end when the waters of the Atlantic found their way into the empty basin through erosion. At first just a trickle which eroded a deeper channel, which brought more and more water until there was a 200 km wide waterfall pouring unbelievable volumes of water into the basin. This catastrophic flood is known as The Zanclean Flood. The channel cut by the flood still exists today in the form of The Strait of Gibraltar.

Nature by the Numbers

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Presented without comment. The video is by Cristóbal Vila. The music is "Often a Bird" by Wim Mertens.

The Freedom of the City

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Freedom of the City is an honor bestowed on esteemed members of the community by a number of commonwealth nations. The practice dates back to a Roman military privilege that allowed especially loyal or trustworthy military units to enter the city under arms.

Of interest is The Freedom of the City of London which comes with some interesting apocryphal rights including:

  • The right to herd sheep over London bridge

  • The right to go about the City with a drawn sword

  • The right to be hung with a silken rope if ever convicted of a capital offence

  • Immunity to being press-ganged

  • The right to be married in St Paul's Cathedral

  • The right to be buried in the City

  • The right to be drunk and disorderly without fear of arrest.

The evidence that these rights were honored in the past is shaky, but they are interesting none the less.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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