How Microplastics Move from Land to Deep Seafloor
U.K. National Oceanography Centre (NOC) research has revealed for the first time how submarine sediment avalanches can transport microplastics from land into the deep ocean. The study also revealed that these flows are responsible for sorting different types of microplastics–burying some, and moving others vast distances across the seafloor.
These findings may help predict the location of future seafloor microplastic hotspots, which in turn could help direct research into the impact of microplastics on marine life.
Over 10 million tons of plastic pollution is exported into the oceans each year. It is thought that around 99 percent of this is stored in the deep sea, often accumulating in submarine canyons.
The new research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, has shown that microplastics can be moved by gravity-driven sediment flows, which can travel thousands of kilometers over the seafloor.