Australian scientists discover huge and ancient underwater volcanoes

Researchers at CSIRO have created a 3D flyover of the volcano cluster based on the maps created by the RV Investigator.

“It was the last night of the voyage and we’d set a path from Forster to Sydney and we just happened to go over these volcanoes”, said Dr Roughan, from UNSW.

A team of researchers has unexpectedly discovered four extinct underwater volcanoes off the coast of Sydney in Australia.

An igneous petrologist and leading expert on volcanoes, Professor Richard Arculus from the Australian National University (ANU), emphasized the importance of these types of volcanoes.

They were discovered by Australia’s new ocean-going research vessel Investigator, which was searching for the nursery grounds of young lobsters at the time.

“The voyage was enormously successful”, said its chief scientist Iain Suthers, from the University of New South Wales.

In a week where a volcano has inconvenienced many, here’s a seismic discovery that has roundly delighted.

The volcanoes, now calderas which form after the eruption when the land around them collapses, may reveal why Australia and New Zealand separated between 40 and 80 million years ago. Being biologists, obviously, they were looking for life – specifically, larval lobsters still placed in their nursery grounds.

RV Investigator is owned and operated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), funded by the Australian government and was officially launched in December 2014. “They’ll now help scientists target future exploration of the sea floor to unlock the secrets of the Earth’s crust”.

“It was astounding to find juvenile commercial fish species like bream and tailor 150 [kilometers] offshore, as we had thought that once they were swept out to sea that was end of them”.

“My favourite phrase to people is “We know the surface topography of Mars better than we know our backyard”, and that’s because there’s no water in the way”. He said the group found the lobster larvae when they didn’t expect to find them along with the volcano cluster.

The volcanoes and their activity could also provide information about a deep sea plateau, Lord Howe Rise, which split from Australia up to 100 million years ago and now stretches between New Caledonia and west of NZ.

Mr Arculus said that by examining the composition of the lava from the extinct volcanoes, scientists could be able to determine the composition of the underlying mantle layer.


p style=”text-align: center;”>CSIRO Investigator discovers extinct volcanoes off Sydney coast


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