What do you find when you set off to go catch some lobsters? Volcanoes, apparently: Australian scientists have discovered a grouping of ancient underwater volcanoes off of the coast of Sydney.
The impetus of the expedition was to collect samples of lobster larvae (yes, larvae — crustaceans are the insects of the sea, after all) and to chart out larval nursery grounds using a 3D mapper.
The investigative voyage was made on the RV Investigator, "Australia's only blue-water research vessel available to the Australian marine and atmospheric research community and their international collaborators for work in Australia's vast ocean territories," as stated by Australia's Marine National Facility (MNF) on their website.
The RV Investigator can be utilized for research that falls under the purview of oceanography, geoscience and marine biology, among other fields both interdisciplinary and non-interdisciplinary. The ship can carry up to 40 people.
According to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the extinct volcanoes (i.e., volcanoes that have remained inactive for 10,000 years or more) are calderas, which are created in a terrestrial implosion post-eruption. Four in total, the craters are estimated to be roughly 50 million years old.
The presence of these ancient subaqueous volcanoes — and, well, most volcanoes — indicate tectonic activity beneath the Earth's surface, such as shifting tectonic plates; inasmuch to this, the RV Investigator's cartographic and topological discovery might also be an important factor to understanding how the continent of Australia separated from Antarctica and New Zealand, as well as how New Zealand formed in the first place.
The apparent inactivity of the volcano clump should come as a relief to amateur volcanologists and neurotics alike in the wake of a viral article published in The New Yorker, which surmised that an earthquake (also a symptom of tectonic activity) could destroy the entirety of the American Pacific Northwest.
Nothing to worry about or anything. Nope, nothing at all.
Check out the video below for some 3D visualizations of the volcanoes.
Via The Guardian