According to a surprise geological revelation, researchers from New South Wales have found four extinct volcanoes off the coast of Sydney! The discovery is set to re-shape our understanding of the nation’s geological development.
The fifty-million-year-old cluster of volcanoes is located about 250 kilometres off Australia’s eastern coastline. The Australian research ship known as ‘the Investigator’ led the underwater search, accidentally stumbling upon the submerged range. While searching for the larval lobster’s nursery grounds, the ship’s crew saw visual evidence of something much more surprising.
Voyage chief scientist Professor Iain Suthers described the excited scene to the ABC: “There on the screen were these four incredible volcanoes looking like something off the front cover of a geology textbook… if you could drain the ocean it would be magnificent to see for a few seconds, it’s a remarkable structure,” he explained. “Now all of Sydney, all of Australia have it as part of their claim of the sea floor and we never knew it was there.”
The stunning find is truly awe-inspiring. The cluster is more than 20 kilometres long and six kilometres wide. And the volcanoes hidden beneath the ocean are indeed gigantic; the largest spans more than a kilometre and a half of sea-floor space and stands a whopping seven hundred metres from the bottom of the sea! Scientists and expert geologists suggest that the volcano range was formed after an eruption decimated the land beside them.
Over the millennia, the crater has been filled in. Renowned expert, ANU’s Professor Richard Arculus, discussed the significance of the find with the national broadcaster. “They tell us part of the story of how New Zealand and Australia separated around 40-80 million years ago,” he said. “They’ll now help scientists target future exploration of the sea floor to unlock the secrets of the Earth’s crust.”
Professor Arculus adds that technological innovation might have made all the difference. “The exciting thing for all of us is that for the first time we have a research vessel that can access almost the full range of ocean depth, so we can map the sea floor. Suddenly, you turn a light on in a darkened room and, wow.”
Congratulations must go to the crew of ‘the Investigator’!
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