Volcanoes key to Ditch secrets
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”.