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Bermuda Triangle

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Author Topic: Bermuda Triangle  (Read 1182 times)
Jill Elvgren
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Posts: 2272

« on: March 11, 2007, 08:08:07 pm »

False-color image of the Gulf Stream flowing north through the western Atlantic Ocean. (NASA)

Compass variations

Compass problems are one of the cited phrases in many Triangle incidents; it is possible that people operating boats and aircraft looked at a compass that they felt was not pointing north, veered course to adjust, and got lost quickly. The North Magnetic Pole is not the North Pole; rather it is the north end of the earth's magnetic field, and as such it is the natural end where the needle of a compass points. The North Magnetic Pole also wanders. In 1996 a Canadian expedition certified its location by magnetometer and theodolite at 7835.7′N 10411.9′W; in 2005 its position was 82.7 N 114.4 W, to the west of Ellesmere Island.

The direction in which a compass needle points is known as magnetic north. In general, this is not exactly the direction of the North Magnetic Pole (or of any other consistent location). Instead, the compass aligns itself to the local geomagnetic field, which varies in a complex manner over the Earth's surface, as well as over time. The angular difference between magnetic north and true north (defined in reference to the Geographic North Pole), at any particular location on the Earth's surface, is called the magnetic declination. Most map coordinate systems are based on true north, and magnetic declination is often shown on map legends so that the direction of true north can be determined from north as indicated by a compass.

False-color image of the Gulf Stream flowing north through the western Atlantic Ocean. (NASA)Magnetic declination has been measured in many countries, including the U.S. The line of zero declination in the U.S. runs from the North Magnetic Pole through Lake Superior and across the western panhandle of Florida. Along this line, true north is the same as magnetic north. West of the line of zero declination, a compass will give a reading that is east of true north. Conversely, east of the line of zero declination, a compass reading will be west of true north. Since the North Magnetic Pole has been wandering toward the northwest, some twenty or more years ago the line of zero declination went through the Triangle, giving sailors and airmen a compass reading of true north instead of magnetic north. A sailor not knowing the difference would sail off course without realizing it, ultimately resulting in a vanishing.


Hurricanes are extremely powerful storms which are spawned in the Atlantic near the equator, and have historically been responsible for thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars in damage. The sinking of Francisco de Bobadilla's Spanish fleet in 1502 was the first recorded instance of a destructive hurricane. In 1988, Hurricane Gilbert, one of the most powerful hurricanes in history, set back Jamaica's economy by three years. These storms have in the past caused a number of incidents related to the Triangle.

Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream is an ocean current which flows out of the Gulf of Mexico, then north through the Florida Straits on into the North Atlantic. In essence, it is a river within an ocean, and like a river, it can and does carry floating objects with it. A small plane making a water landing, or a boat having engine trouble will be carried away from its reported position by the current, as has happened to the cabin cruiser Witchcraft on December 22, 1967, when it reported engine trouble near the Miami buoy marker one mile from shore, but was not there when a Coast Guard cutter arrived.

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