Undersea volcanoes, hot springs found off Fiji coast

June 20th, 2008 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  


Sydney, June 20 (IANS) A team of Australian and American geologists has discovered several active undersea volcanoes, ridges and hot springs off the coast of Fiji. The geologists located them with the help of high-tech, multi-beam sonar mapping equipment, while exploring uncharted areas. Digital images of the seafloor revealed formerly unknown features.

For example, summits of the volcanoes, named ‘Dugong’ and ‘Lobster’, are dominated by large calderas at depths of 1,100 and 1,500 metres.

Calderas are volcanic craters that have diameters many times that of the vent and is formed by collapse of the central part of a volcano or by extremely violent explosions.

During the six-week expedition, the scientists analysed rock types and formation around North Lau Basin, 400 km northeast of Fiji.

The project’s chief scientist, Richard Arculus, described the terrain - the result of extreme volcanic and tectonic activity - as spectacular, with some of the features looking like “the volcanic blisters seen on the surface of Venus”.

“These active volcanoes are modern-day evidence of mineral deposition such as copper, zinc, and lead and give an insight into the geological make-up of Australia,” he noted.

“It provides a model of what happened millions of years ago to explain the formation of the deposits of precious minerals that are currently exploited.”

It could also provide geologists with clues about new undiscovered mineral deposits.

The discovery, Arculus said, highlighted man’s lack of knowledge about the world’s oceans.

“We know more about the surface of Mars than we know about the ocean floor,” Arculus said.

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Posted in Sci-Tech, World |

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