Scientists continue to discover new underwater regions and each discovery is particularly amazing. This time, scientists were surprised when they discovered a hidden landscape near the Australian coast. The landscape, actually the remains of a stretch of underwater lava flow, unbelievably resembles the landscape of Mordor, the dark realm depicted in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, Lord of the Rings series. According to the scientists, the discovery of this Mordor under the sea, will help them understand underwater lava flows and discover more of them in the future.
A team of researchers conducted a study and used advanced imaging techniques which revealed the peaks and valleys of the underwater landscape. They discovered the remains of 26 lava flows which measured up to 21 miles in length and 9 miles in width.
“By using data acquired as part of oil exploration efforts, we have been able to map these ancient lava flows in unprecedented detail, revealing a spectacular volcanic landscape that bring to mind illustrations from Lord of the Rings,” Nick Schofield from the University of Aberdeen in the UK, said in a statement.
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“Submarine lava ﬂows are inherently more difﬁcult to study than their counterparts on the Earth’s surface due to their inaccessibility, and the technology we have used is similar in many ways to what is used to produce ultrasound images of babies, but for the Earth.”
The technique they used to obtain the data is dubbed 3D seismic reflection data, which is gathered when the surfaces are scanned using seismic waves. Researchers measured how the seismic waves bounce back, which helped them determine the layout, and what the underground flows are made of that resemble Mordor under the sea.
A part of what scientists found in the Bright Basin, located off the coast of southern Australia, were found to be a series of underwater kipukas, islands which were created by lava flows that formed around the edges. Kipukas have never been studied underwater before, which means the scientists will have a lot of data to analyze this Mordor under the sea.
More than two-thirds of volcanic activity on the Earth, happens under water. With this new information, scientists can discover more about lava flows, how they form, evolve and gain shape under the water.
This area is particularly exciting for studying because the lava flows are quite close to the surface, and they aren’t covered by flood basalt, which makes seismic scanning more challenging. Scientists can apply the same scanning and surveying techniques in order to discover more underwater volcanic landscapes.
“By using this technique, we have a unique insight into a landscape that has remained hidden for millions of years, highlighting the growing importance of seismic data in studying submarine volcanism,” Schofield said.
The scientists have published their findings in the American Geophysical Union Journal.