Seabed of jet hunt zone mostly flat with 1 trench

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This undated graphic provided by Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) Dr. Robin Beaman, James Cook University, shows the North-westerly view of the search area for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 at Broken Ridge, south-eastern Indian Ocean, which shows the Diamantina Escarpment dropping from about 800 meters to over 5000 meters in depth. Two miles under the sea where satellites and planes are looking for debris from the missing Malaysian jet, the ocean floor is cold, dark, covered in a squishy muck of dead plankton and – in a potential break for the search – mostly flat. The troubling exception is a steep, rocky drop ending in a deep trench. The sea floor in this swath of the Indian Ocean is dominated by a substantial underwater plateau known as Broken Ridge, where the geography would probably not hinder efforts to find the main body of the jet that disappeared with 239 people on board three weeks ago, according to seabed experts who have studied the area. (AP Photo/Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) Dr Robin Beaman, James Cook University)

This undated graphic provided by Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) Dr. Robin Beaman, James Cook University, shows the North-westerly view of the search area for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 at Broken Ridge, south-eastern Indian Ocean, which shows the Diamantina Escarpment dropping from about 800 meters to over 5000 meters in depth. Two miles under the sea where satellites and planes are looking for debris from the missing Malaysian jet, the ocean floor is cold, dark, covered in a squishy muck of dead plankton and – in a potential break for the search – mostly flat. The troubling exception is a steep, rocky drop ending in a deep trench. The sea floor in this swath of the Indian Ocean is dominated by a substantial underwater plateau known as Broken Ridge, where the geography would probably not hinder efforts to find the main body of the jet that disappeared with 239 people on board three weeks ago, according to seabed experts who have studied the area. (AP Photo/Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) Dr Robin Beaman, James Cook University)

Australian defense ship Ocean Shield lies docked at naval base HMAS Stirling while being fitted with a towed pinger locator to aid in her roll in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia, Sunday, March 30, 2014. The Australian warship with an aircraft black box detector was set to depart Sunday to join the search. It will still take three to four days for the ship, the Ocean Shield, to reach the search zone — an area roughly the size of Poland about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) to the west of Australia. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, Pool)

A sensor for the towed pinger locator sits on the wharf at the naval base HMAS Stirling ready to be fitted to the defense ship Ocean Shield to aid in her roll in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia, Sunday, March 30, 2014. The Australian warship with an aircraft black box detector was set to depart Sunday to join the search. It will still take three to four days for the ship, the Ocean Shield, to reach the search zone — an area roughly the size of Poland about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) to the west of Australia. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Australian Defense ship Ocean Shield lies docked at naval base HMAS Stirling while being fitted with a towed pinger locator to aid in her roll in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia, Sunday, March 30, 2014. The Australian warship with an aircraft black box detector was set to depart Sunday to join the search. It will still take three to four days for the ship, the Ocean Shield, to reach the search zone — an area roughly the size of Poland about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) to the west of Australia.(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Two miles under the sea where satellites and planes are looking for debris from the missing Malaysian jet, the ocean floor is cold, dark, covered in a squishy muck of dead plankton and — in a potential break for the search — mostly flat. The troubling exception is a steep, rocky drop ending in a deep trench.

The seafloor in this swath of the Indian Ocean is dominated by a substantial underwater plateau known as Broken Ridge, where the geography would probably not hinder efforts to find the main body of the jet that disappeared with 239 people on board three weeks ago, according to seabed experts who have studied the area.

Australian officials on Friday moved the search to an area 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast of a previous zone as the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continued to confound. There is no guarantee that the jet crashed into the new search area. Planes that have searched it for two days have spotted objects of various colors and sizes, but none of the items scooped by ships has been confirmed to be related to the plane.

The zone is huge: about 319,000 square kilometers (123,000 square miles), roughly the size of Poland or New Mexico. But it is closer to land than the previous search zone, its weather is much more hospitable — and Broken Ridge sounds a lot craggier than it really is.

And the deepest part is believed to be 5,800 meters (19,000 feet), within the range of American black box ping locators on an Australian ship leaving Sunday for the area and expected to arrive in three or four days.

Formed about 100 million years ago by volcanic activity, the ridge was once above water. Pulled under by the spreading of the ocean floor, now it is more like a large underwater plain, gently sloping from as shallow as

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