Wondering Why?

Why is sea water salty?

Why is sea water salty?

The rain water flows on the rocks of the land and dissolves salt from the rocks. The rain takes away the salt into the streams and then into rivers and then into the Sea. This salt carried by the rain to the sea retains here itself as there will not be any flow of water from the sea. The sea water evaporates due to heat, to create clouds. The salt remains as it is, in the sea and gets accumulated. Hence, the Sea becomes salty.

Sea water is observed to extract the salts from the oceanic crust. There are certain locations inside the ocean called as hydrothermal vents. These hydrothermal vents are rich source of salts and the sea water gets sucked into these vents. The sea water that gets absorbed into the vents becomes hot and extract or dissolve the salts in the vents. The sea water that has absorbed the salts from the hydrothermal vent flows again into the Sea. This increases the salt of the Sea.

There might be volcanoes existing under the sea water. Eruption of those volcanoes can also make the sea salty. Here again the molten rock is getting dissolved into the sea water and hence the salts in it gets mixed up with sea water making it salty. This does not mean that sea has its salt content increasing year by year. Several animals in the sea require sodium for their survival. Even calcium is essential for them to form the shells. The clam shell gets its sodium and calcium from the sea water salt. When the animals in the sea die after sometime, their dead organic matter leaves again salt inside the ocean. The salt in their bodies will get sedimented deep inside the earth.

The constant reactions of the rocks with the sea water are found to be reversible. The salt will not be always taken away from the rocks into the sea, but will also be removed from the sea water. This salt balance in the seawater is explained by plate tectonics. Sea water is salty but they do not get much saltier.

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