08-12-03: Trash Vortex

The world’s largest garbage dump is located thousands of miles from land.  Also known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Pacific Trash Vortex is an area of marine debris floating in the Pacific Ocean.  This collection of trash is characterized as a plastic-soup due the high concentrations of suspended disposable plastics that have been trapped by the spiraling currents of the North Pacific Gyre.

08-12-03: Trash Vortex: global gyre locations

The rotational pattern described by the North Pacific Gyre draws in waste material from the extremities of the North Pacific Ocean, including the coastal waters off North America and Japan. As material circulates in the current, the centripetal tendency gradually moves floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the circumscribed oceanic region. This action has produced unusually high levels of marine debris in the area.

08-12-03: Trash Vortex / The Independent
08-12-03: Trash Vortex: The Independent

Charles Moore, an American oceanographer, discovered the trash vortex in 1997.  While taking a short cut home from a yacht race, Moore cut across the North Pacific Gyre, usually avoid by sea-vessels, and spent the following week swimming through the vortex’s trash-filled territory.

Like other areas of concentrated marine debris in the world's oceans, the Pacific Trash Vortex has formed gradually over the last decades as a result of higher levels of marine pollution and the action of prevailing oceanic currents.

08-12-03: Trash Vortex Global Currents

The size of the affected region is unknown, but estimates range from 700,000 km2 to more than 15 million km2, (0.41% to 8.1% of the size of the Pacific Ocean). It is estimated that 80% of the material trapped in the vortex comes from land-based sources and the remaining 20% are sea-based sources such as ships and oil rigs.  Moore estimates that oceanic currents carry debris from the east coast of Asia to the center of the gyre in a year or less. Debris from the west coast of North America arrives at the gyre’s centre after approximately five years.


COMMENTS / 5 COMMENTS

[...] Waterscapes looks at the garbage gyre written about by InfraNet Lab last year.  The great pacific garbage patch is comprised of floating [...]

InfraNet Lab » Blog Archive » Ecologies of Excess added these pithy words on May 13 10 at 7:23 pm

The garbage sometimes comes onto the shores of hawaii, and they started forming by the ocean currents. Mandy animals are killed, and I am doin a project on it for my class.

treehugger added these pithy words on Jan 21 09 at 4:18 pm

I was terrofy. How can we help to avoid this tragedy? It is a tragedy. Our nature, our health our children's health depend in the way we hand the earth. Let's all help!!!

Mayra Cardona added these pithy words on May 19 09 at 8:58 am

Quit drinking bottled water first and foremost. Then, quit using ANYTHING plastic. It is a great idea for some things, but it is horrible for the environment!

Steve added these pithy words on May 02 10 at 2:47 pm

Well if someone went out there with big nets and scooped up all the plastic, they could just put it into one of Ikinori Ito’s "Plastic to oil" burners and make themselves a boatload of cash selling this oil. Don"t tell anyone!

earth girl added these pithy words on Jun 28 11 at 8:22 am

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