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Why the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans Don't Mix

Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

By Durga PrasadPublished about a year ago 5 min read

When you look at seas and oceans on a map, you might think they just flow into each other. It seems that there is only one big ocean, and people have just given different names to parts of it. Well, you'll be surprised how bright the lines are between them! The border between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans is like a border between two worlds. The two oceans seem to meet in an invisible wall that prevents them from flowing into each other and mixing their waters. Why the hell is this happening? We know for sure that there is no invisible wall inside, and water is water. What could prevent its mixing? The point is that water can also be different. The Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean have different densities, chemical compositions, salinities, and other characteristics. Their color shows that they are far from the same. Boundaries between two bodies of water with different physical and biological characteristics are known as ocean lines. Haloclines—the boundaries of waters of different salinities—are the most spectacular, and this is what we see at the meeting of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The famous explorer Jacques Cousteau discovered it while diving deep in the Strait of Gibraltar. The different layers of salt water seemed to be divided by a transparent membrane, and each layer had its own flora and fauna. Haloclines occur when the water in one ocean or sea is at least five times saltier than the other. You can create a halocline at home by pouring a glass of sea or colored salt water and adding fresh water. The only difference is that your haloclines are horizontal and oceanic haloclines are vertical. If you remember a few basic things about physics, you can argue that a denser fluid should eventually fall lower and a less dense fluid should eventually fall higher. If this were true, the boundary between the two oceans would not appear as a vertical but a horizontal line, and the difference in salinity between them would become less noticeable the closer they got to each other. So why isn't it happening here? First, the difference in water density between the two oceans is not so great that one sinks and the other rises. And yet it is enough not to let them mix. However, another reason is slowness. One inertial force, known as the Coriolis force, acts on objects as they move around a system of axes that, in turn, are also moving. Simply put, the Earth is moving, and the Coriolis force affects any object moving on it that is deflected. As a result, objects on the Earth's surface do not move straight ahead but tend to go clockwise in the northern hemisphere and anticlockwise in the southern hemisphere. But the Earth moves slowly; it takes a whole day for the planet to make a circle around its axis. That is why the Coriolis effect occurs only at long intervals, in connection with cyclones or ocean currents. And therefore, the direction of currents in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is different. It also prevents them from mixing. Another important difference between the two oceans is the strength of the molecular bond, or surface tension. Thanks to this force, the molecules of the substance stick to each other. Both oceans have completely different surface tensions, which prevents them from mixing as well. Perhaps they could gradually begin to mix over time, but since their currents are opposite, they simply do not have time to do so. In both oceans, we think it's just water, but its separate molecules only momentarily meet and then drift away with the ocean currents. But don't think that only the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans don't get along well! There are many places on the planet where the waters of two seas or rivers do not mix. There are also thermoclines—boundaries between waters of different temperatures, such as the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the much colder North Atlantic. Chemoclines are the most amazing. These are the boundaries between waters with different microclimates and chemical compositions. The Sargassum Sea is the largest and best-known chemocline. It's a coastal sea within the Atlantic, but you can't miss it. Let's take a look at the most amazing features of the planet.


Baltic and North Seas Close to the Danish city of Skagen, these two waters merge. Due to their disparate densities, water does not mix with them. The froth created when the two oceans' waves collide may occasionally be seen. However, their water only gradually mixes, which is why the Baltic Sea has a minor salinity. It would have been a sizable freshwater lake if the water from the North Sea hadn't been present.


The Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea Their water does not mix because of their differing salinities and densities when they meet at the Strait of Gibraltar.


The Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea The location of their meeting is close to the Antilles, and it appears as though someone painted the water there in various blue hues. Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas is another location where these two come together. The Atlantic Ocean is dark blue, whereas the Caribbean Sea is turquoise.


In South America, close to Paramaribo, the Surinam River and the Atlantic Ocean converge.


River Uruguay and its effects In Argentina's region of Misiones, these two come together. One of them is cleaned before being used in agriculture, whereas the other virtually turns crimson when it rains because of the loam.


The Rio Negro and Solimoes Rivers, which are both tributaries of the Amazon River, meet about 2.5 miles apart and are located 6 miles outside of Manaus, Brazil. The Rio Negro is black, whereas the Solimoes are bright. They differ in temperature and flow rate.


Rhein and Mosel They meet in Germany's Koblenz. While Mosel's water is darker, Rheine's is lighter.


Danube, Ilz, and Inn These three rivers meet in Passau, Germany. The Danube is in the Centre, the Inn is the light river to the right, and the Ilz is a little mountain river to the left. The inn is broader than the Danube in this location but still flows.


In India, the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers converge. Bhagirathi is bright, whereas Alaknanda is dark.


In Kazakhstan, close to the city whose name neither I nor you will ever be able to say, the rivers Irtysh and Ulba merge. Your attempt has been made. (Ust'-Kamenogorsk.) While Ulba's water is murky, Irtysh's is pristine.


In China's Chongqing, the Jialing and Yangtze rivers merge. While the Yangtze is brown, the Jialing is spotless.


Om and Irtysh The Russian Omsk is the confluence of these two rivers. The Om is pure and translucent, whereas the Irtysh is cloudy.


The Chuya and Katun rivers converge in the Russian Altai Republic. Here, the Chuya's water has an unusually hazy white color and appears thick and dense. Clean and turquoise describe Katun. They merge into one another to produce a single, persistently two-color flow.


The Colorado and Green River Canyonlands National Parks in Utah, USA, are where they meet. Colorado is brown, whereas green is, you guessed it, green. These rivers' corridors pass through rocks with various chemical compositions, which explains why their colors vary so sharply.


Rivers Rhone and Arve In Geneva, Switzerland, they merge into one another. The Arve is hazy because it receives its water from glaciers in the Chamonix valley, whereas the Rhone is a clear river that emerges from the Lake of Geneva. What do you make of all this water, then? Of course it's a joke, much like many of my attempts to pronounce those river names correctly.


About the Creator

Durga Prasad

My "spare" time is spent creating for myself and writing for others.

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    DPWritten by Durga Prasad

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