Vol­ca­noes key to Ditch se­crets

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

A CLUS­TER of sub­merged vol­ca­noes has been dis­cov­ered off Syd­ney, sci­en­tists said yesterday, with the po­ten­tial to help un­lock the se­crets of the sea floor be­tween Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

That’s the claim yesterday from sci­en­tists af­ter four ex­tinct vol­ca­noes were found last month, about 250 kilo­me­tres off­shore from the city.

Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity vol­cano ex­pert Richard Ar­cu­lus said the vol­ca­noes, which are spread across 20km, were “a win­dow into the un­der­ly­ing man­tle” be­neath the seabed.

“They tell us part of the story of how New Zealand and Aus­tralia sep­a­rated around 40 to 80 mil­lion years ago and they’ll now help sci­en­tists tar­get fu­ture ex­plo­ration of the sea floor to un­lock the se­crets of the Earth’s crust,” he said.

Thought to be about 50 mil- lion years old, the vol­ca­noes are at a depth of 4900m. The largest is 1.5 kilo­me­tres across the crater rim and ris­ing 700 me­tres from the sea floor.

How­ever, a re­cently com­mis­sioned Aus­tralian re­search ves­sel, the In­ves­ti­ga­tor, is equipped with sonar that can map the sea floor at that depth.

Mr Ar­cu­lus said sci­en­tists knew more about the sur­face of Mars than they knew about “our own backyard”.

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