Highly read on geology.gsapubs.org in April

At the start of the most recent ice age, pressurized sand exploded through cracks in the sea floor at the bottom of the North Sea, producing a body of sand large enough to bury Manhattan under 160-metre-high dunes.

Helge Løseth at the Statoil Research Centre in Trondheim, Norway, and his colleagues created a seismic map of the sand in Norwegian waters, which they combined with data from wells drilled into the sea bed. The authors conclude that after the sand erupted from sea bed cracks, water currents spread it over several kilometres. At 10 cubic kilometres, the sand body is the largest created in this way to be found so far.

The sand sits on top of an oil field and could harbour oil, which can emerge from fractures in the sea floor and seep through porous sand, the authors say.

Geology 40, 467–470 (2012)