Why Ocean Water Is Salty?

.“Water is around everywhere but with a lot of salt to it” But why Ocean or sea water is salty?

Water is one of the most important elements to survive and when we look around the globe, we have plenty of water to live for the next centuries. But because of the salt in it, makes it vulnerable for humans to consume it directly and it is not possible with known existing available resources or technology to just remove or separate all the salt and makes it good enough to drink.

why ocean water is salty

About Ocean

Oceans cover 70 % of earth’s surface, where we have 4 prominent oceans named as Indian, Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic. However, many countries do identify Antarctic as a fifth ocean but most of it is in frozen state.

The salinity of ocean is a big topic of debate over the years among many known oceanographers. Here, we will try to explore in vast with the reasons and where the salinity is high and where it is less.

Salinity in Ocean Water

Salinity is the concentration of salt in water, and on earth the total concentration of saltwater is 97% where we have just 3% of total water which is fresh to survive and use. Some estimates state that, if we spread all the salt from the oceans evenly on earth’s surface then we would be creating a layer more than 500 meter high.

Salty ocean water

In earlier times to conclude the time take for the current depositing of salt in the ocean were estimated to be 90 million years older, but then the measurement techniques weren’t precise enough to perform the calculation. The advanced technologies evolved in the field related, have far more new studies which revealed that the salt present in the ocean is more than that was believed. Now, the question here is where all this salt comes from?

Let’s dug deep and start with some mythologies and later cover the scientific reason for the same too.

According To Hindu Mythology

According to Hindu mythology it was God Indra (God of rain), killed a brahmana due to some reasons. So to escape the curse of the brahmana mother he escaped to lord Vishnu, who told him that this sin can’t be forgiven but it was suggested to transfer the effect to all creation of god including – Tree, Human, Earth and Sea, due to which the water becomes salty.

indra brahmana hindu mythology on salty water

According To Roman Mythology

According to Roman Mythology, Salacia the divine goddess of salt water, was approached by Neptune the god of Sea for marriage but Salacia wasn’t ready for the same and she hide in the depth of ocean. So, to woo her and marry her, Neptune sent a dolphin to find and eventually persuade her to come back and marry. It was believed that her stay in the ocean led to the salinity of sea.
Also, Neptune was so impressed with the dolphin that he gave it a place in the constellation as Delphinus.

goddess salacia and neptune salty ocean

As mentioned in many mythologies there are different stories and explanation of salt in ocean. But we will be exploring now some hard-proven scientific reasons for the same.

Scientific Explanations of Salty Water

The most common ion found in ocean level are Chloride and Sodium, These two together make over 90% of dissolved salt in ocean water. Some others are Sulphate, Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium etc. and, the total salinity in ocean water is about 35 parts per thousand which explains that for every 1000 part of ocean water the 35th part is salt, which constitutes 120 Mn tons per cubic mile.
Now there are many reasons for ocean’s water to be salty as stated below

1) Rain & Magma (Ocean water)

The water droplets in the form of rain reacts with carbon dioxide present in atmosphere which led to the formation of carbonic acid. As the carbonic acid is formed it led to the acidic nature of rainwater. This acidic rainwater then reacts with the minerals available in earth and led to the development of new mineral and salts. These then are flown away by the water coming from rains or river into the oceans, thus making oceans salty.

volcanic rain in the ocean

Now when this water reaches oceans, along the underwater mountain ranges. Magma rises close to ocean crust, where the salty ocean water gets into earth’s crust, it gets hot due to magma. This hot water dissolve more mineral such as Iron, Zinc and Copper present in crust and carries them to oceans through hydrothermal vents also known as fissures, thus making oceans water even more salty.

2) Saltation

The second main reason is that most of the salt comes from the land mainly. Here the river and other water body which starts their journey through one source or either glaciers, carries away most the tiny rocks and particles through with them which gradually led to deposit of the salt in oceans. 

river flow saltation

Over the years it has been observed that the river flowing through mountains and making their way of own carry rocks and gradually break them while flowing in tiny particles of Sodium, Chloride, and other particle responsible for salt formation. Here the biggest questions arise that why rivers aren’t salty? then ocean water salty

Why Rivers aren’t Salty?

So, to make it simple, the reason is that the rivers are continuously flowing and the water we have either from the rivers or lakes, their impurities either flowing or settled down in the bottom, thus making it good enough to drink and consume. Hence, the water in rivers is always being stocked up by rains, springs, and their source or glaciers.

dead sea jordan

The most phenomenal occurrence is due to the seawater, called the Dead Sea. It is present between Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. The high salinity in the sea makes it to be the most saline lake in the world. It is due to salt flowing into it from different water bodies, where it lacks a drainage system which led to salt getting deposited here. Due to the higher level of salt, the lake’s density becomes higher than normal and makes the body floats like a cork and it doesn’t sink. to ocean salty water.

Benefits of Salty Water

Salt-water provides almost half of the oxygen on the planet. Salt-water ecosystems intake carbon and converted it into oxygen. The marine life dependent on salt water would perish also if we do not preserve this natural source. Ultimately affect the life of people depending on marine animals for their livelihood.

Poonam chhapola


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