underwater canyon

Obama invokes 1953 law to indefinitely block drilling in Arctic and Atlantic oceans
President Barack Obama used a provision, which Donald Trump cannot easily sweep aside, to block drilling in federal waters.
By Tom DiChristopher

“The law allows a president to withdraw any currently unleased lands in the Outer Continental Shelf from future lease sales. There is no provision in the law that allows the executive’s successor to repeal the decision, so President-elect Donald Trump would not be able to easily brush aside the action.

…The lands covered include the bulk of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the Arctic and 31 underwater canyons in the Atlantic.

Canada also imposed a five-year ban on all oil and gas drilling licensing in the Canadian Arctic. The moratorium will be reviewed every five years.

 "These actions, and Canada’s parallel actions, protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on earth,“ Obama said in a statement.

 ”They reflect the scientific assessment that, even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.


Turbidity currents are a gravity-driven, sediment-laden flow, like a landslide or avalanche that occurs underwater. They are extremely turbulent flows with a well-defined leading edge, called a head. Turbidity currents are often triggered by earthquakes, which shake loose sediments previously deposited in underwater mountains and canyons. Once suspended, these sediments make the fluid denser than surrounding water, causing the turbidity current to flow downhill until its energy is expended and its sediment settles to form a turbidite deposit. By sampling cores from the seafloor, scientists studying turbidites can determine when and where magnitude 8+ earthquakes have occurred over the past 12,000+ years!  (Video credit: A. Teijen et al.; submitted by Simon H.)

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It is a truth without question, without conceit, that given enough time–given the time, say, afforded to soldiers in a war that was never optional, never a choice, that has been fought on a hundred million fronts for a hundred million years, and will still be fought when the soldiers who stand against the encroaching shadow are made of stone, or stardust, or the glitter of a dying dynasty–given enough time, the sea will wear down the stone.  It will erode what once seemed so indestructible, so permanent.  It will grind mountains into sand and sweep that same sand through underwater canyons, cradling it, keeping it, never letting it go.  The sea is not merciless.  The sea has her own flavor of mercy, her own kind of compassion.  The sea can love.  But the sea can no more change her nature than the stone can turn to air, and what she loves most, she sees worn away, made part of her, lost.


They have outlived so many.  That should be a comfort, she supposes; that they, who once thought themselves destined for early graves on a planet she has not touched in almost a century, have outlived so many of the ones they came to love.  But that’s the hook that kills the fish, isn’t it?  They had too much time.  Time to love each other.  Time to love more than just themselves.  Her heart was an ocean filled with life once, teeming with the ceaseless motion of their fins, the flicking of their tails.  Her little mermaids, and she the sea witch who struggled to watch over them, never showing how much she cared, never betraying her own shallows.  Let them think her only depths, only the drowning pressure of the deep-down, and never the sunlight lightness of the shore.  It was easier for her, even as she loved them, to hold them a little bit apart.  And now…

They have outlived so many.  Fire burns hot, but fire always burns out, because to do otherwise is to be less than flame.  Rei did her best to stay.  There is no question of that.  Rei fought to the end, until she was burning her own ashes, and when her princess bid her to rest, she had gone down into the dark in silent resignation, convinced that she had failed.  To die in battle, she could have understood.  To die in peacetime…ah.  Some punishments are crueler because they do not understand their own natures.  Usagi, who had loved Rei best of all, had wept at her funeral, and called her dying at home a “mercy.”

There is no mercy here.  There is only the erosion, the sea wearing away the stone.

They have outlived so many.  Jupiter, killed in an insurrection near Sirius, fighting back a rebellion by a splinter of the Black Moon, the only one of them to have died in her soldier’s shape, with her planet’s power burning in her hands.  Ami, whose death is still in question, who swam so deep that she did not surface again.  She could still be there, beneath the frozen surface of the world that most now consider to be her grave, gathering her strength, preparing to come home.  She could be.

She isn’t.

Setsuna has been gone for fifty years, retreating back to wherever it is she goes when the pull of time grows too strong.  Hotaru is with the Small Lady, small no more, finally lady in truth and not only name.  She grows into her strength and beauty every day, and she is the sea who wears away Usagi’s stone, and Usagi knows it, yes, she knows; she will go soon, will wrap herself in butterfly wings and break herself against a crystal sword, to spare her daughter the pain of knowing that only one of them can fully embody their shared world at any given time.  The Moon has been full for so long.  Let it wane.  Let Small Lady hold it close, and teach it how to grieve, that it might burn brighter when it rises anew.

The galaxy has known only the bright, fierce love of the full moon for so very, very long.  Perhaps the rest of the cycle will be kinder in its adoration.  Perhaps fewer children will be called to fight in her name.  But it won’t matter.  The sea will still wear down the stone; in the end, the sea will go on alone.

Michiru lowers her violin and turns to the gauzy curtains which shroud the flower-petal bower she shares with Haruka, here on this world without a name, whose soldier’s heart only now grows bright and ripe below her surging seas.  A Senshi will rise here before the moon turns full again, and another will take a turn out of the cycle to rest, to recover, to restore herself.  For there are worlds without number, and they cannot all be called to combat every time the war resumes.  They must rest sometime.

She must rest sometime.

“Are you awake?” she asks, in a tone which telegraphs her unconcern, her lack of care.  She is a fabulous liar.

There is no response from inside the gauzy dome.

Slowly, Michiru lowers her violin, replaces it in the case, seals the latch.  It is suddely loathsome to the touch, an artifact of Earth, which has no business here.  The war has paused.  The war has let them go.  But she couldn’t let go, could she?  She had to cling to the girl she’d been before she was a soldier, and so it has followed them.  The war is death, and the war is here, and how could she have been so foolish?  How could she have been so cruel?

“Are you awake?” she calls again.  This time, there is no lie in her trembling words, only need, naked and raw and terrified.

The curtain stirs.  A figure steps out.

Michiru does not scream, although, for a time, she considers it; holds that consideration in her silence, terrible-bright, cutting cold.  Instead, she looks at the girl in front of her, who has never become a woman, even as those around her aged, grew up, grew old, raised families of their own.  Neither of them speaks.

Fire burns; water drowns; lightning crashes.  The sea wears down the stone.  Death is the natural order of things.  But they have brought Saturn back into the fold, have sundered death and renewal from the fear that once surrounded them–and was that Serenity’s doing?  Was she, who so feared dying, who so feared letting go, the reason Saturn had been so long in exile?  For the first time, Michiru thinks she truly understands the old Queen; sympathizes with her, even.

I would stop the stars to keep you here, she thinks, and it is too late.  She has already lost.  They have all already lost.

When death is no longer to be feared, what is?  Why, stasis.  Shining bright and sterile and unchanging, never moving on, never growing, never dying.  Never letting go.  When death is part of the natural order, when death is required, the denial of it must be the most dangerous thing in the universe.

Perhaps someday, Small Lady will set her free.  Or perhaps not.  Perhaps Small Lady will always love her too much, and the harm she does is so minimal; she holds herself apart, stays in the shadows, stays away from those who might look upon a curse and see it for the blessing it never was.  Perhaps it will be another daughter of the Serenity line, one with hair the color of moonlight on the water, the color of sea foam, the color of tears.  Another silver daughter of the moon, who has never danced under the cherry blossom moonlight of Earth’s skies in the springtime, or seen the moon glow gold in the afternoon sun.  Another child, another cycle, another turn.  Perhaps.

“I don’t recall inviting you,” says Michiru, and if she has anything left to be proud of, it’s that her voice does not break.

“Haruka did,” says Venus, and she is still so young, and her eyes are so old.  It has been centuries.  The rest of them have softened and aged and broken themselves against the shore, and she is still so young.


“Because she was dying, and wanted to speak to me before you could.”


“Didn’t want this.  Didn’t want me.”

“So she would rather leave me alone?”  Michiru shakes her head.  "No.  She never wanted that.“

"She wants to be young with you again.  On another world, by another sea, looking at you through another pair of eyes.  She wants a life defined by peacetime.  Small Lady is still young.  Her throne will be strong for centuries.  The war–”

“Will return.  The war always returns.”  Michiru’s eyes narrow.  "There is always another enemy.“

Venus, who knows what she is and more, what she is becoming in the slow, steady march of days, smiles.  "But not yet.  Right now, I love you too much.  I know you too well.”

“You won’t.  We’ll have that new shore, that new sky, and you’ll still be you, prisoned in a skin made of crystal and ice, never changing, never forgetting.  You’ll come to kill us all one day, because we won’t be who you want.”

“Maybe,” says Venus, in a voice that sounds like I know.  She shrugs.  "But I wouldn’t wish that on anyone else.  Haruka knew you would, because you love like I do.  Soldiers for Love and Justice.“  She turns the words into a condemnation.

Michiru’s eyes go to the gauze, fluttering in the wind like a shroud.  "Is she…?”

“I love you,” Venus replies.  "I’ll always love you.  All of you.  And when that love turns poisonous, you’ll love me enough to set me free and bring me home.  Try to remember that, when you’re forgetting everything else.  Try to remember the love.“

Michiru says nothing, only turns and walks toward the bower, shoulders set into a line as tight and fragile as the bow of her violin.  Sailor Venus, who will never be anything else, not until she has become a story, a myth, a nightmare spun for the dear and delicate daughters of the moon, watches her go.

Barely louder than the wind, Michiru begins to weep.  Venus walks to the edge of the cliff, closes her eyes, and steps off.

For the love of Serenity, remember, she thinks, and is gone, leaving the sea to beat against the shore, senseless and eternal, wearing the land away one grain at a time.


Happy birthday, @docholligay!