Physical Conditions Present a Mile Down in Seawater

Here is a great post from grolaw on For the original article click here.

grolaw writes:

One thing I’ve noticed is that very little is published about the physical conditions present a mile down in seawater. That environment is more hostile – by far – than near space. Consider that the barometric pressure at sea level is about 14.7 p.s.i. (29.9 mm Hg), 101.3 kPa.

Water has a density of approximately one (1) gram per cubic centimeter. The hydrostatic pressure at 5000+ ft down in the ocean is monstrous. it is also very cold.

At 1,538,461 centimeters (1.54 Km) the water pressure is roughly 1,538 Kg/cm^2. Methane ((CH4) commonly known as marsh gas or a “fart”) is frozen slush at that pressure. Short chain hydrocarbons (gasses) are liquids at that low temperature and high pressure (i.e. C2H6 – Ethane, C3H8 Propane…) and longer chain hydrocarbons are viscous (imagine WD-40 tm as viscous (thick) as honey).

It is also entirely without natural light – so, we have a pressure of more than a metric ton per square centimeter, no light, temperatures are close to 40 F and hydrocarbons spewing out of the end of the wellhead at pressures substantially in excess of of the hydrostatic pressure at that depth.

The visibility is further limited by the turbulent and opaque hydrocarbon spew and any ability to manipulate flanges by robot would have to take into account all of these incredible physical conditions.

Frankly, I doubt that there will ever be a remedy – short of equilibrium.

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