A mile-deep, 10,000-year-old version of the Grand Canyon sits just below the Hudson

Posted On Wed, December 28, 2016 By

Posted On Wed, December 28, 2016 By In History

In the natural wonders department, the East Coast has its very own version of the Grand Canyon. Sitting under about 60 feet of water at the mouth of the Hudson River, the Hudson Canyon was created during the last ice age 10,000 years ago. Located on the continental margin (the zone of the ocean floor that separates the thin oceanic crust from thick continental crust) off New York and New Jersey at the outlet of the Hudson River, it’s so deep (estimated to be at least a mile) that we don’t know much about what lies at the bottom, but we do know that it’s a biodiversity hotspot. Jon Forrest Dohlin, vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society and director of the New York Aquarium tells NYMetro that due to the unique phenomenon of an upwelling of cold water mixing with warmer surface currents, the submarine canyon is able to provide a home for hundreds of species from plankton to turtles, sharks, whales and birds.

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The Canyon’s Edge exhibit at New York Aquarium; photo: The Portico Group

A re-creation of the massive, majestic canyon is part of a new exhibit, “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” scheduled to open at the New York Aquarium in 2018. The exhibit will feature Canyon’s Edge, a recreation of what it would be like to sit on–and stand underneath–the edge of the Hudson Canyon. In addition to learning about Hudson Canyon, visitors to the “Sharks!” exhibit will be able go inside a shipwreck and coral reef tunnel.

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Octopus and Desmophyllum; photo: Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER, BOEM, USGS (above). Blue shark at the Hudson Canyon Photo: Keith Ellenbogen Commissioned by the New York Aquarium (top)

The canyon is also on the nomination list as a National Marine Sanctuary; the designation would keep the impressive natural wonder from being exploited for oil and gas exploration. The canyon site is covered under President Barack Obama’s recent executive order banning gas and oil exploration along the Atlantic coast (though the new administration could challenge the ban). The ban doesn’t stop commercial and recreational fishing at the edge of the canyon, though the Marine Sanctuary designation would.

A petition to support the canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary can be found here.

[Via NY Metro]

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