The United States spent half a billion dollars and worked for 10 years to build the Panama Canal. But instead of cutting across the central American country, crews should have been digging down. Scientists recently discovered a hidden passageway 60 miles beneath the country that stretches 900 miles. The find could solve some mysteries geologists have noticed in that area.
Scientists announced the discovery in Panama last month. This hidden passageway could explain why Panama has so few active volcanos, Live Science notes. There is a line of volcanos that runs along the west coast of Central America. It’s where two tectonic plates meet, which allows molten lava can push through in those areas. But this doesn’t happen in Panama.
Scientists don’t know why this is or why materials from the Earth’s mantle show up much further away than current science can explain. David Bekaert, lead author of the paper that claimed this discovery, said a 900-mile-long conduit — effectively a tunnel — beneath Panama could be why. He compared ‘mantle wind’ pushing pieces of the Earth’s mantle through that conduit to how a blood vessel moves blood to different parts of the body.
And speaking of recent major underground discoveries.
Scientists Find Secret Pool of Water Beneath Surface of Mars
Mars is a desert wasteland today, but long ago oceans of water covered the surface of the Red Planet. For years, scientists have suspected that there is water still on the planet. But they haven’t found it outside of a few pockets of water at the poles or very deep underground. That is until recently.
Thanks to new technology, scientists say they’ve been able to detect a cache of water on Mars that stretches 15,830 square miles. That’s the size of the Netherlands, reports of the discovery exclaimed. The European Space Agency’s ExoMars orbiter detected the deposit near Candor Chaos, which scientists call the Grand Canyon of Mars.
The find could be critical for plans to colonize Mars as access to water will play an important role in where we decide to build any potential human settlement.
“Even if it’s bounded in minerals, it’s still accessible,” said Colin Wilson, who is a member of the ESA team. “If you were to take some sort of mineral and then put it in an oven on your lander, it’d be quite easy to get a lot of water out of it.”
Tech mogul and Time Magazine’s Man of the Year Elon Musk has long pitched the idea that humans must move to Mars. The SpaceX founder believes climate change and dwindling resources threaten life on this planet.
“If we are able to make life self-sustaining on Mars, we will have passed one of the greatest filters. That then sets us up to become interstellar,” Musk tweeted. “Earth is ~4.5B years old, but life is still not multi-planetary and it is extremely uncertain how much time is left to become so.”