Undersea Volcano That's 50 Million Years Old Discovered Near Australia

First Posted: Jul 13, 2015 05:31 PM EDT

A submerged, underwater volcano has been found off of the coast of Australia. Researchers have uncovered a volcano that's estimated to be about 50 million years old and may just tell scientists a bit more about the history of the area.

The researchers first discovered the volcano in a voyage off of the coast of Australia. It isn't just one volcano, either; it's a cluster. These volcanoes were found in 4,900 meters of water during a search for nursery grounds for larval lobsters.

"The voyage was enormous successfully," said Iain Suthers, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Not only did we discover a cluster of volcanoes on Sydney's doorstep, we were amazed to find that an eddy off Sydney was a hotspot for lobster larvae at a time of the year when we were not expecting them."

The four extinct volcanoes that were found are actually called calderas, which form after a volcano erupts and the land around them collapses, forming a crater. The largest of these volcanoes is 1.5 kilometers across the rim and it rises 700 meters from the sea floor.

"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," said Richard Arculus, one of the researchers. "They haven't been found before now because the sonar on the previous Marine National Facility (MNF) research vessel, Southern Surveyor, could only map the sea floor to 3,000 meters, which left half of Australia's ocean territory out of reach."

The findings reveal a bit more about the dynamics of the ocean. This, in turn, may tell scientists a bit more about the past of Australia.

Want to learn more? Check out the video below, courtesy of YouTube.

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