A team of researchers have recently discovered four underwater volcanoes off the coast of Sydney. The scientists were aboard an Australian vessel and on another mission at the time of the discovery. The volcanoes which are believed to be about 50 million years of age were uncovered around 250 kilometers away from the coast and were seen on the floor of the sea with the help of sonar mapping.
The four giant volcanoes look similar to craters in the shape of bowls. This kind of formation takes place when volcanoes erupt and the surrounding land collapses. The largest of the four volcanoes has a size of around 1.5 kilometers across its rim and about 700 meters in altitude. The cluster of volcanoes is about 20 kilometers long and at a depth of around 5 kilometers underwater.
Iain Suthers, the lead investigator and marine biologist from the University of New South Wales said that his jaw dropped when the discovery was made. He also wondered why those structures were underwater and why they weren’t discovered for such a long time. He believes that the recent discovery will further help demonstrate that a lot more information about Mars is available than about the sea floor of our planet.
The vessel that helped the team of scientists make the discovery is called the RV Investigator and it is managed by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization), which is known for helping marine scientists in Australia discover a lot of things never before seen in the past.
The vessel measures 94 feet and it’s made to look for ocean eddies in the east coast of Australia. Investigator was tested in March and it is believed that it has the capacity to create a map of the sea floor at any depth. The previous vessel utilized by marine biologists, called the Southern Surveyor, is capable of mapping the sea floor at a depth of just 3,000 meters.
Researchers also believe that the volcanoes discovery can provide knowledge about the separation of New Zealand and Australia. The scientists claim that there is a possibility that the volcanoes were created because of the geological plate shifting that took place in the split.
The federal government provides enough funding to keep the vessel working for 180 days every year, but scientists are now hoping to extend that period to a full year. Suthers said that if volcanoes can be discovered with the help of a vessel made to look for larva, only the sky is the limit for experts on a dedicated mission.
Image Source: smh.com.au