Precipitous Continental Slopes and Considerations on the Transitional Crust

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Science  08 Jan 1965:
Vol. 147, Issue 3654, pp. 145-148
DOI: 10.1126/science.147.3654.145


The continental slope bordering the Bahamian Platform to the east descends precipitously from a shallow edge to oceanic depths. Sustained slopes of at least 40 degrees have been found east of San Salvador. Considerations based on isostatic equilibrium suggest that in this area the oceanic crust may approach the edge of the shelf within a distance as short as 8.5 km. If so, it may be possible to drill and sample a substantial portion of the transitional crust by means of directional drilling techniques from a rig located at the edge of the shelf. It may even be possible, at some future time, to cross the entire crust, pierce the Mohorovičić discontinuity, and penetrate the mantle.