Underwater avalanches are trapping microplastics in the deep ocean

A collaborative research project between the Universities of Manchester, Utrecht, and Durham, and the National Oceanography Centre 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, the largest on earth, are responsible for sorting different types of microplastics—burying some, and moving others vast distances across the sea floor.

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% of this is stored in the deep sea, often prefentially accumulating in submarine canyons.

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