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June 25, 2024

Massive Underwater Volcanic Structure Rivaling Idaho Continues Growing Since Dinosaur Era

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Jan 16, 2024

A new study has revealed the existence of a gargantuan volcanic structure located deep beneath the Pacific Ocean that has quietly grown to the size of Idaho over hundreds of millions of years.

Primeval Undersea Plateau Larger Than Great Britain Discovered Near Fiji

Scientists were stunned to uncover this vast underwater landmass, dubbed the “Melanesian Border Plateau,” situated north of Fiji between two tectonic plates. Spanning over 772,204 square miles (2 million square kilometers), this geological formation is even more expansive than Great Britain.

Based on samples gathered through oceanic drilling expeditions, researchers determined that the plateau has been accumulating material from volcanic eruptions since the early Cretaceous period approximately 125 million years ago when dinosaurs still dominated the planet. The study, published this month in Nature Communications, represents the first complete map and analysis of the perplexing undersea terrain.

“This is quite an exceptional feature in the Earth and a spectacular example of processes fundamental to plate tectonics,” said lead author Dr. Jonathan Pownall from the Australian National University Research School of Earth Sciences.

Undersea Mountains taller than the French Alps Hidden Below Pacific Waves

Using sonar technology and seismic imaging, the team found that parts of the plateau soar over 9,800 feet high – even taller than the French Alps. These submerged mountain ranges produce the islands that dot the South Pacific, forming an arc thousands of miles long.

“It’s quite remarkable when you think about it,” Dr. Pownall stated. “It’s like a massive pile of volcanos the size of a country that has emerged from the sea, but never above sea level except for a few small islands. The vertical movement of these types of features represents dynamic processes occurring deep within the Earth.”

Millions of Years of Eruptions Construct Mysterious Terrain

The researchers determined that instead of forming from a single volcanic source, the undersea landmass accrued in stages through sporadic volcanic activities along the border between the Australian and Pacific plates.

“It seems that periods of volcanic activity emerge, do their thing for a million years or so, then die away,” Pownall explained. “Then another system fires up. It’s been bouncing around the ocean.”

This start-and-stop construction has baffled scientists struggling to explain the origins of the submarine plateau. The quantity of lava and material required to form such an expansive structure implies extreme volcanic violence much greater than typically observed.

“We still don’t fully understand the processes that have built this volcanic mountain chain underwater,” said co-author Professor Richard Arculus. Further research on the plateau may unlock mysteries about the turbulent tectonic forces molding the Earth’s crust.

Chile-sized Structure Hidden Below Pacific Waves Perplexes Scientists

The analysis confirmed that the 0.86 million cubic mile expanse of rock accounts for over 5% of all volcanic material on Earth taller than 1 kilometer. Yet despite its immensity, the Melanesian Border Plateau has remained largely concealed below the waves, only betraying its presence through its small emergent islands.

“It’s quite remarkable when you think about it,” Dr. Pownall stated. “It’s like a massive pile of volcanos the size of a country that has emerged from the sea, but never above sea level except for a few small islands.”

This inconspicuous development over 125 million years amazes scientists struggling to contextualize such an enormous structure compared to more familiar continental landmasses.

“I think the existence of such features prompts important questions about the drivers of plate tectonics,” said Dr. Pownall.

Further Analysis Needed to Unravel Geological Puzzle

While the survey and sampling provide tantalizing clues into the origins of the plateau, significant gaps remain in understanding this geological peculiarity.

“Future ocean drilling in the region will allow dating and compositional studies to better constrain eruption episodes forming the plateau,” said Dr. Pownall. “This will help us understand the role of subsurface mantle dynamics in producing massive volcanic events over geologic time.”

Unlocking the volcanic history encoded in the subsurface rock layers may illuminate the tectonic forces that birthed the landscape inhabited by dinosaurs eons ago – and continues to develop today, hidden below the waves.

The researchers emphasize that decoding the geological information harbored by the plateau can unravel mysteries about the dynamics shaping Earth more broadly.

“Understanding the life cycle of ocean plateaus provides important insights into fundamental Earth processes,” concluded Dr. Pownall.

This breaking news story used information from the following sources:

Massive Undersea Volcanic Structure Off Fiji Dwarfs Idaho

Superstructure Bigger Than Idaho Has Been Growing on The Seafloor Since The Dinosaur Age

Decoding The Complex Formation of The Melanesian Border Plateau

Strange Superstructure in The Pacific Has Been Forming Since Dinosaurs Ruled Earth

Volcanic Superstructure Beneath Pacific Ocean Has Existed Since Age of Dinosaurs

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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