Great Barrier Reef Hides A Massive Natural Wonder, Here’s What It Is

First Posted: Feb 09, 2017 03:49 AM EST

Australia's Great Barrier Reef has been hiding its own natural wonder, an enormous undersea landslide that is 30 times the volume of the nation's island mountain Uluru. Scientists discovered the landform on the north Queensland coast, off Innisfail.

According to a Brisbane Times report, large and smaller blocks, or knolls, were found scattered up to 1,350 meters deep, which is more than 30 kilometers away from the main remains of the slip called the Gloria Knolls Slide. A 3D multibeam mapping on the deep seafloor enabled the scientists to unearth the traces of the sediment collapse.

"We were amazed to discover this cluster of knolls," said Robin Beam, scientist at James Cook University. "In an area of the Queensland Trough that was supposed to be relatively flat were eight knolls, appearing like hills, with some over 100 meters high and 3 kilometers long."

Another scientist, Angel Puga-Bernabeu from the University of Granada, added that the oldest fossil corals that were found on the top of a sample knoll dated back to at least 302,000 years, implying that the landslide was even older in age. The sample was taken from 1,170 meters deep in the sea. It showed an incredible cold water group of living and fossil coral species, stalked barnacles, molluscs, bamboo corals and gorgonian sea whips.

According to the research team of scientists, finding the undersea landslide and its enormous debris in the Great Barrier Reef has unveiled a far more intricate landscape than previously known. Furthermore, more research is needed with the help of sampling and seabed mapping to understand the tsunami risk to the coast of Queensland by underwater landslides.

The Gloria Knolls Slide research is being conducted in collaboration by scientists from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, University of Granada, University of Sydney, James Cook University and University of Edinburgh.

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