Photo by: Ocean Exploration Trust

Ocean Exploration Trust

The Jacuzzi of Despair Is a Deadly Lake Within the Gulf of Mexico

By: Joanie Faletto

This underwater brine pool in the Gulf of Mexico is no vacation spot.

August 01, 2019

A jacuzzi is the picture of warm, bubbling, soothing relaxation. It's a luxury. But tweak the scene to make those steamy bubbles full of methane and that hot, clear water a thick, briny stew, and you have yourself the "jacuzzi of despair." This underwater brine pool in the Gulf of Mexico is no vacation spot — it's a toxic pocket of seawater that will certainly kill anything that swims into it. Hopefully, we didn't just ruin jacuzzis for you ...

Photo by: Ocean Exploration Trust

Ocean Exploration Trust

Come on in, the Water's Poison

Scientists discovered this lethal hellscape on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico about a day's boat ride from the coast of New Orleans, Seeker reported in May 2016. The "jacuzzi" measures about 100 feet (30 meters) in circumference, reaches about 12 feet (4 meters) deep, and lies nearly 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) below the surface.

The water here could hardly be called that — this underwater environment is five times saltier than the surrounding seawater, and it's so dense that it doesn't mix into the rest of the water. The salt density sitting on the seafloor has created something of a toxic cauldron of chemicals, including methane gas and hydrogen sulfide. If it hasn't been made clear yet, anything that swims into the jacuzzi of despair (mainly crabs, amphipods, and the occasional unlucky fish) will certainly die.

But Why?

What on Earth would create a pocket of seawater so toxic that it kills anything unlucky enough to enter? Well, millions of years ago, the Gulf of Mexico was much more shallow that it is today. As that shallow water evaporated, it left massive layers of salt behind, which were slowly buried under layers of sediment. As the pressures grew, these layers shifted and cracked, letting the salt escape — and creating a super-concentrated brine bath that doesn't mix with the water around it and essentially pickles you to death.

This isn't the only brine that's deadly. In freezing regions, brine icicles known as "brinicles" freeze dangerously quickly, often trapping any aquatic life that gets in their way. Who knew salt could be so scary?

This article first appeared on Curiosity.com

Next Up

Every Week Should Be World Oceans Week

Danni Washington is not only the face of Discovery Exploration, but she is also an ocean advocate and conservationist who has plans on how everyone can make a big impact.

Awesome Fjords in Norway

Avoid the crowds and adventure into the north of Norway. Norway is known for it’s awesome fjords. But what exactly is a fjord? It’s a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs that formed after several ice ages. Find out where to avoid the crowds and visit these natural wonders on your next adventure.

5 Wonders You Probably Didn't Know Were Man-Made

Most of the planet’s most majestic wonders have either sprung from the earth or so evidently made by human hand that their architects and designers are world-renowned.

Explore Colombia Where Few Have Trekked Before and Discover New Bird Species

The remote Serranía del Perijá mountain range, which divides Venezuela from Colombia, was once ruled by guerrillas, and near-impossible to access. But thanks to the Colombian peace agreement, which was signed in 2016, adventurers are starting to explore the formerly out-of-bounds forest-cloaked peaks.

National Parks to Visit in Alaska

Explore a world of wild beauty and pure adventure.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The mists of The Great Smoky Mountains seem to shroud the very secrets of the region's historical tragedies and biological triumphs.

North America's Top Natural Wonders

North America is made up of natural wonders including unusual geological formations, towering mountains and icy glaciers.

Retrace the Journeys of Pilgrims in Spain's Basque Country

Discovering shepherds' huts and Spanish vineyards in the Basque Country.

Scaling Wales’ Highest Mountain

Britain isn’t famous for its hiking but one mountain every climber should summit is Mt. Snowdon for extreme weather and breathtaking views.

Explore the Magic and Beauty of Guatemala's Lake Atitlán

Take an outdoor adventure through Guatemala's most mysterious, magical lake.