There are many amazing things in life that we most often rarely think about. For example, it is no secret to anyone that fresh water flows in rivers, while it is salty in the seas and oceans. But why did this happen? Don’t rivers feed the seas? In fact, this question cannot be quickly and unambiguously answered. But we will try to understand the essence of a funny paradox.
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To begin with, let’s decide what can generally be considered salt water, and what can be considered fresh water. To measure the salt content in water, there is a special parameter, ppm (‰). So, in the Dead Sea, the most salty place on the planet, the salinity is 300-350‰. In practice, this means that 300-350 grams of salt are dissolved in one liter of water. And fresh water is called water with a ppm index of not more than one. The salinity reference is the Bay of Biscay, whose waters are used to calibrate instruments. The ppm index there is 35‰. You can compare it with other seas and oceans: in the Atlantic, the average is 35.4‰, in the Pacific Ocean – 34.5‰, in the Red Sea – 41‰, in the Mediterranean Sea – 39‰, in the Black Sea – 18‰, and in Azov only 11‰. In total, 35 million tons of salt are dissolved in a cubic kilometer of the ocean. But where did she come from?
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Version traditional, scientific
Sea salt enters the waters of the ocean and seas when rocks located on land are destroyed. Rainwater falling from the sky has a certain acidity, which leads to a gradual washout of a real mineral cocktail into the sea. This is where the main chemical reactions take place. So the salinity of the world’s oceans is explained by the banal water cycle. Minerals that are transferred to the sea are involved in this process. Water is evaporated under the action of the sun, but without salts. And the pure water returns again as rains to the earth.
Scientists believe that this process has been going on for more than two billion years. During this time, the chemical composition of the ocean was formed, which has practically not changed over the past time. Yes, and lake water with river water is also a little salty, but this taste is practically not felt due to the low concentration. The elements that rivers bring to the seas have practically no effect on the existing chemical composition. Sea water contains almost all common elements: magnesium, sulfur, tin, uranium, cobalt, gold, about 60 in total. But most of all it contains sodium chloride or the very salt in question.
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Alternative version, scientific
Changes in the salinity of ocean water may have caused volcanoes. They were very active at a certain stage of the planet’s life during the formation of its crust. Compounds of fluorine, chlorine and bromine were abundantly thrown into the air, and then chemical rains fell back to the ground.
The first seas on the planet were acidic. But in the process of interaction of this liquid with rocks, alkaline elements were washed out of them: magnesium, potassium, sodium. Chemical interaction generated salts that acted as a neutralizer. As a result, the acidity of the water gradually decreased, about 500 million years ago, sea water acquired the form we are already familiar with. Carbonates from river water are used by living organisms to form their shells and skeletons, but life uses little chlorides.
The researchers believe that this version may well complement the first.
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People who lived on the shores of the seas have always tried to understand why there is salty water, and not fresh water, as in rivers. There could be no scientific explanations, which is why mythological ones had to be content. In ancient Greece, it was believed that the salinity of the sea is given by tears that drip from the eyes of earthly girls captured by Poseidon. And the Vikings believed in some millstones, which, by the will of the gods, did not stop and continue to grind salt, which dissolves in water. The Indians had a similar version. Interest in this issue has been preserved, and in our time science has given plausible explanations.
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