Prev NEXT  


How the Bermuda Triangle Works

Plausible Theories About the Bermuda Triangle

ship in storm
Poor weather and human error are more likely than aliens to be the reason for ships and planes disappearing in the Bermuda Triange. REB Images/Getty Images


Many bizarre theories have been put forth as to why there have been so many disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle. One is that alien abductions are to blame. Charles Berlitz wrote of "suggestions of inter-dimensional changeover through a passageway equivalent to a 'hole in the sky' (which aircraft can enter but not leave), [while] others believe the disappearances are engineered by entities from inner or outer space."

Others think that the Bermuda Triangle area is home to the lost city of Atlantis and remnants of its advanced technologies. Psychic Edgar Cayce said that Bimini was one of the mountaintops of ancient Atlantis and that Atlantis had some special crystals that radiated so much energy they could cause navigational equipment on ships and planes to malfunction [source: Bermuda Attractions].

But we don't need to go with supernatural reasons to explain the incidents in the Bermuda Triangle. The area is one of the most highly trafficked for amateur pilots and sailors, and more traffic leads to more accidents and disappearances. Here are some other explanations:

Weather Patterns

The Bermuda Triangle is an area where the weather can be treacherous. Most Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes pass through the area, and the Gulf Stream can cause quick, sometimes violent weather shifts. In the days before the development of modern weather forecasting, it's not hard to imagine ships being caught off guard [source: NOAA]. Waterspouts that could easily destroy a passing plane or ship are also not uncommon. A waterspout is simply a tornado at sea that pulls water from the ocean surface. Some are accompanied by winds of 125 miles (200 kilometers) an hour [source: NASA].

The Gulf Stream, which travels along the western edge of the Triangle, is extremely swift and turbulent. It can pose extreme navigational challenges, especially for inexperienced sailors. The Gulf Stream has been reported to move faster than 4-5 knots per hour (around 7-9 kph) in some areas — that's 300 times faster than the Amazon River. This is more than enough to throw sailors hundreds of miles off course if they don't compensate correctly for the current. It can also quickly erase any evidence of a disaster [source: Mayell].

Topography and Seismic Effects

The many islands in the Caribbean create lots of areas of shallow water, which can be treacherous to ships [source: NOAA]. But at the same time, some of the deepest trenches in the world are found in the area of the Bermuda Triangle, including the Puerto Rico Trench, which goes down to 27,500 feet (8,229 meters) below sea level. Ships or planes that sink into these deep trenches will probably never be found [source: Mayell].

Other possible environmental effects include underwater earthquakes, as scientists have found a great deal of seismic activity in the area. Back in 1817, a 7.4 earthquake at the northern end of the Triangle caused a tsunami that violently tossed ships as far north as the Delaware River south of Philadelphia [source: Oskin].

Methane Gas

In 2016, researchers at Arctic University of Norway caused a sensation when they announced the discovery of giant craters up to half a mile (0.8 kilometer) wide in the Barents Sea off the coast of Norway, which they believed were caused by exploding natural gas that had migrated from deep oil deposits and accumulated in shallow rocks. Some newspapers seized upon the idea that such blowouts might explain the disappearance of ships in the Bermuda Triangle. But in a media release, one of the researchers, Professor Karin Andreassen, made clear that the scientists were not making any links to the Triangle [source: CAGE]. National Geographic News described the notion that methane explosions might be the explanation for disappearances in the Triangle as a "fringe" theory [source: Howard].

Human Error

As we have already seen, many of the Bermuda Triangle disappearances can be attributed to good ol' human error — people misreading compasses, making poor navigational decisions, misunderstanding their location and the like. It's worth noting that as navigational equipment has improved, there have been far fewer instances of mysterious disappearances in the waters of the Atlantic.

For lots more information on the Bermuda Triangle and related topics, check out the links below.

Last editorial update on Jun 29, 2018 02:37:19 pm.

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • Barber, Elizabeth. "Bermuda Triangle doesn't make the cut on list of world's most dangerous oceans." Christian Science Monitor. June 10, 2013. (April 22, 2018)
  • "Bermuda Triangle." World Atlas. Nov. 17, 2015. (April 22, 2018)
  • CAGE. "Craters in Barents Sea Not Connected to Bermuda Triangle." March 14, 2016. (May 20, 2018)
  • Cardiff University. "Sustainable Energy Source Could Solve Bermuda Triangle Riddle." ScienceDaily. June 15, 2005. (April 22, 2018)
  • Civil Aeronautics Board. "Accident Investigation Report." National Transportation Library. July 14, 1948. (May 20, 2018)
  • Dickens, Gerald. R. "Methane Hydrate and Abrupt Climate Change." Geotimes. American Geologic Institute, November 2004. (April 22, 2018)
  • Eddy, Cheryl. "The 10 Greatest Bermuda Triangle Moments in Pop Culture History." Gizmodo. Nov. 19, 2014. (May 20, 2018)
  • Encyclopedia Britannica. "Bermuda Triangle." May 18, 2018. (May 20, 2018)
  • Erdman, Shelby Lin. "Lost patrol in Bermuda Triangle still a mystery 72 years later." Atlanta Journal Constitution. Dec. 6, 2017. (April 22, 2018)
  • Fritz, Angela. "The 'Bermuda Triangle mystery' isn't solved, and this scientist didn't suggest it was." Washington Post. Oct. 25, 2016. (April 22, 2018)
  • Gaddis, Vincent H. "The Deadly Bermuda Triangle." Argosy. February 1964. (April 22, 2018)
  • Gubbins, David, and Herrero-Bervera, Emilio. "Encyclopedia of Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism." Springer. 2007. (May 20, 2018)
  • Natural Resources Canada. "Magnetic declination." Feb. 24, 2017. (May 20, 2018)
  • History. "Bermuda Triangle." (April 22, 2018)
  • Howard, Brian Clark. "Gas Craters Off Norway Linked to Fringe Bermuda Triangle Theory." National Geographic News. March 15, 2016. (May 20, 2018)
  • Jones, Meg. "Bermuda Triangle mystery still haunts: 40 years after plane's disappearance, families have no answers." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Dec. 17, 2005. (May 20, 2018)
  • Kusche, Larry. "The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Delusion: Looking Back after Forty Years." Skeptical Inquirer. November-December 2015. (April 22, 2018)
  • Mayell, Hillary. "Bermuda Triangle: Behind the Intrigue." National Geographic News. Dec. 15, 2003. (April 22, 2018)
  • McDonnell, Michael. "Flight 19: Lost Patrol." Naval Aviation News. June 1973. (May 20, 2018)
  • Miller, Norman. "Science: The real power of the deep." Independent. Dec. 21, 1997. (April 22, 2018)
  • Milton, Giles. "The Bermuda Triangle: Whatever became of the myth." Telegraph. Dec. 4, 2015. (April 22, 2018)
  • Museum of Unnatural History. "The Bermuda Triangle." (April 22, 2018)
  • NASA. "A Waterspout in Florida." Sept. 3, 2017. (May 20, 2018)
  • National Ocean Service. "What is the Bermuda Triangle?" Jan. 4, 2010. (April 22, 2018)
  • Naval Historical Center. "Frequently Asked Questions: The Bermuda Triangle." March 18, 1999. (April 22, 2018)
  • Naval Historical Center. "Bermuda Triangle: A Selected Bibliography." April 4, 2018. (April 22, 2018)
  • Oskin, Becky. "Bermuda Triangle Earthquake Triggered 1817 Tsunami." LiveScience. Sept. 8, 2013. (May 20, 2018)
  • Prudente, Tim. "Baltimore-bound USS Cyclops vanished 100 years ago. Its fate remains a mystery." Washington Post. March 15, 2018. ( April 22, 2018)
  • Quasar, Gian J. "Into the Bermuda Triangle: Pursuing the Truth Behind the World's Greatest Mystery." McGraw Hill. 2004. (April 22, 2018)
  • Ratner, Paul. "Disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle linked to technology failures." Feb. 16, 2018. (April 22, 2018)
  • Ratner, Paul. "Why is there no map of the Bermuda Triangle? The U.S. Coast Guard has the answer." Feb. 9, 2018. (April 22, 2018)
  • Rosenberg, Howard L. "Exorcizing the Devil's Triangle." Sealift. June 1974. (April 22, 2018)
  • Stewart, Dr. Iain. "Echoes of Plato's Atlantis." BBC History. Feb. 17, 2011. (April 22, 2018)
  • Stritmatter, Roger A. and Kositsky, Lynne. "On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare's The Tempest." McFarland. 2013. (May 20, 2018)
  • Time. "Investigations: The Queen with the Weak Back." March 8, 1963. (May 20, 2018)
  • Trembly, Ara C. "Bermuda Triangle no Threat to Insurers?" Property & Casualty Risk & Benefits Management, February 15, 1999, Vol. 103, Issue 7.
  • USGS. "How To Use a Compass with a USGS Topographic Map." May 2, 2017. (May 20, 2018)
  • Williams, William F. "Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy." Routledge. 2013. (May 20, 2018)