Five More Limestone Stacks To Raise Number Of Twelve Apostles To 17 – Newly Discovered Limestone Structures Are 60,000-Years-Old

The stack of “Twelve Apostles” has five more, boosting the number to 17. The world-famous natural rock formation may soon undergo a rechristening if these edifices are officially considered.

Many are wondering if the Twelve Apostles will undergo a name change to 17 Apostles as five new stacks have been discovered near the iconic structures in the Port Campbell. The coastal town in Victoria, Australia, is quite famous among tourists who flock to visit the limestone stacks off the coast.

The discovery was made by Ph.D. student Rhiannon Bezore, Associate Professor David Kennedy, from the University of Melbourne’s School of Geography, and Deakin University’s Dr. Daniel Ierodiaconou. It has been published in the U.S.-based Journal of Coastal Research. Though the discovery took place in March of last year, its significance became apparent after thoroughly studying the data that was collected. The findings undoubtedly offer a new perspective about the sheer amount of complexity of Australia’s ocean floor, reported ABC News.

The newly discovered stacks have been dubbed the “Drowned Apostles” since they are completely submerged underwater, unlike the Twelve Apostles that protrude out of the water. The surprise find means there has, in fact, been 17 of the columns in the ocean off the Great Ocean Road, reported The New Castle Herald. The limestone stacks are about four to six meters high and lie about 50 meters below water.

Located about 6 km off the coastline between Point Campbell and Peterborough, these stacks are truly astounding for one more reason. Unlike the Twelve Apostles that are merely 6,000- to 7,000-years-old, these stacks that take the tally to 17 are believed to be about 60,000-years-old, shared Melbourne University PhD student Rhiannon Bezore, who stumbled across the limestone stacks while investigating sonar data.

“They looked suspiciously like sea stacks and I literally did a double take. This is kind of a first because sea stacks are really temporary features that exist more on a centuries time scale. The fact that they were spotted or exist, even, is pretty surprising.”

Despite the extensive age, researchers believe the drowned Apostles and the eight remaining of the Twelve Apostles would all originally have made up the same limestone coastline, reported DB Techno. The mere existence of natural limestone stacks so far into the ocean is truly surprising. It was the first time limestone stacks had been found preserved in the ocean, noted Associate Professor David Kennedy from the University of Melbourne’s School of Geography,

“From a scientific perspective, how do they even exist? Sea stacks are really transient features on the coastline, we only see them because the coast is eroding and they’re constantly falling down. No one ever thought that they could be preserved over thousands of years with sea levels, [so] they’ve never been described anywhere else in the world.”

What Prof. Kennedy implied was that these limestone stacks shouldn’t be able to exist for thousands of years. Limestone structures typically have a lifespan of a few centuries. The mere fact that these stacks have not only withstood the brutal sea, but the test of time itself, is truly astounding.

Perhaps their existence can be attributed to the relatively fast geological changes, like sea level rise, shared Bezore.

“The main factor is that through the past geological changes they’ve been through, the sea level rise has occurred at such a fast pace. Because of that, they’ve actually been submerged before erosional processes could come and knock them over.”

Teeming with vibrant sea creatures including fish, lobsters, and abalone, these Drowned Apostles are bound to become a tourist attraction, which might mandate the name change of Twelve Apostles to 17 Apostles, reported The Spreadit.

[Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images]