It is the splendor of nature at the Gulf of Alaska,that tells a strange story. Having an uneven combination of mountain, forest and tidewater glaciers, Gulf of Alaska is the place where two oceans meet, but interestingly, they never mix with each other. The color variations of dark blue and electric blue water in that merging point is clear and stunning. Even the growth of froth will show you the exact point of intersection of the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The famous pictures of the waters not mixing show the milky waters of the Copper River entering the Gulf of Alaska (North Pacific). The two waters have different specific gravities—the Copper River is fresh water carrying glacial silt; the Gulf is salt water filled with organic matter. A few miles out from the coast the silt begins to settle and the visible division disappears. This is not a rare phenomenon; it happens at the mouths of many rivers and even along rivers where two tributaries (such as the White and Blue Nile) join. It is not two oceans meeting, its glacial melt water meeting the off shore waters of gulf of Alaska. The reason for this strange phenomenon is due to the difference of water density, temperature and salinity of the glacial melt water and off shore waters of gulf of Alaska, making it difficult to mix.
Gulf of Alaska
The Gulf of Alaska is famously known as the place where 'two oceans meet but do not mix'. This is a strange natural phenomenon that has taken place in the Gulf of Alaska over centuries. The Gulf of Alaska is a wide curve in the Pacific Ocean. This Gulf defines the south coast of Alaska. It stretches from the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island in the west to the Alexander Archipelago in the east. This is where the Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage are found. They do eventually mix, but we do come across these really strong gradients at these specific moments in time. Such borders are never static, as they move around and disappear altogether, depending on the level of sediment and the whims of the water.
Ken Bruland, professor of ocean sciences at University of California-Santa Cruz, studied how huge eddies — slow moving currents — ranging into the hundreds of kilometers in diameter, swirl out from the Alaska coast into the Gulf of Alaska. Those eddies often carry with them huge quantities of glacial sediment, thanks to rivers like Alaska's 286-mile-long Copper River, prized for its salmon and originating from the Copper Glacier far inland. It empties out east of Prince William Sound, carrying with it all that heavy clay and sediment. And with that sediment comes iron.
Not two oceans – but a glacier melting and the other is the offshore water of Gulf of Alaska. The melting water of glacier is mineral rich and sediment-laden; other is saline water. The first one being lighter in density has light blue color, while the salt content makes sea water density heavy, giving it a dark blue shade. This variation in water density brings that difference in colors. However, the temperature and salinity level difference are also responsible for keeping the water bodies dissimilar. According to Bruland, glacier rivers in the summertime are like buzzsaws eroding away the mountains there. In the process, they lift up all this material — they call it glacial flour — that can be carried out. Once these glacial rivers pour out into the larger body of water, they are picked up by ocean currents, moving east to west, and begin to circulate there. This is one of the primary methods that iron — found in the clay and sediment of the glacial runoff — is transported to iron-deprived regions in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska. "They do eventually mix, but you do come across these really strong gradients at these specific moments in time," he said. Such borders are never static, he added, as they move around and disappear altogether, depending on the level of sediment and the whims of the water. There is much study being conducted on how this iron influences marine productivity, in particular its effects on the growth of plankton, which Bruland referred to as "the base of the food chain."
What the Holy Quran says:
The meeting together and not mixing of two water bodies is illuminated in the Holy Quran.
"He has let free The two seas Meeting together: Between them is a barrier Which they do not transgress: Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny? Out of them come pearls and coral" (27-55-19).
"It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water. One palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter; yet has He made a barrier between them, a partition that is not to be passed" (19-25-53).
In the above verses it is explained how the two bodies of water, salt and sweet, meet together, yet keep separate, as if there was a barer or partition between them. This is also one of the favours of Allah; Sea-water is a sanitating agent, while fresh water is sweet and palatable to drink. In the world taken as a whole, there are two bodies of water: the great salt ocean and the bodies of sweat water (rivers, lakes or springs). The bodies of water are always kept apart and distinct. In the case of rivers carrying large quantities of water to the sea, like the Mississippi, the river water with its silt remains distinct from sea-water for a long distance out at sea. But the wonderful sign is that the two bodies of water, though they pass through each other, remain distinct bodies, with their distinct functions. Weaving a harmonious fabric out of these distinct fibres shows both Allah's power and wisdom. Incidentally this verse points to a fact which has only recently been discovered by science. A spectacular splendor of nature: Praise to Allah, the Creator of the universe. The fact that the Holy Quran revealed it 1400 years ago is a clear proof of it being the divine book. And yet we fall astray!
Dr. Mohammad Shafi Khan IS Principal, Govt. Degree College Kilam, Kashmir