Off the coast of southern Australia, in an area known as the Bight Basin, scientists have discovered a “Mordor under the sea” by way of a large chain of 26 lava flows that look remarkably like J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional area of Middle-earth, only thankfully with no Sauron anywhere in sight.
Scientists utilized special imaging techniques designed to be conducted underwater and were pleasantly surprised to find the enormous lava flows which they calculated to be 21 miles long and nine miles wide, making this a truly otherworldly location.
The highest peak of the lava flows under the sea measured at a remarkable 2,051 feet, yet it’s not merely the Mordor-like appearance of this terrain that is so fascinating. The technology that scientists had at their disposal to allow them to take a closer look at the Australian ocean floor is also quite unique, according to the University of Aberdeen’s Nick Schofield.
“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.”
Scientists were also fortunate to have data at their disposal which is normally used for the exploration of oil.
“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.”
— Newmagazinnews (@newmagazinnews) January 23, 2018
As Science Alert reports, scientists employed something known as 3D seismic reflection data, a tool that allows scientists to use seismic waves to look at the surface of ocean waves. When the waves make a bouncing motion, scientists are then able to better understand the layout of the location, as well as the makeup of the various features deep beneath the sea.
This is extremely useful as normally objects like the “Mordor under the sea” lava flows would be completely obscured by other objects. In this particular Australian location of the Bight Basin, there was approximately 850 feet of sediment hiding the terrain.
Another interesting discovery that scientists have made in this region are underwater islands known as kipukas, which came into being from lava flows. As these objects have never been researched undersea before, scientists have plenty of new studies ahead of them.
— World Of Science (@WorldOfScience4) January 23, 2018
If you’re interested in learning more about the “Mordor under the sea” in Australia, new research on these underwater lava flows has been published in the American Geophysical Union Journal.