A group of researchers in Australia have discovered the remains of an ancient submarine volcano in the Indian Ocean that resembles JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy “The Eye of Sauron”.
As described in “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the Eye of Sauron was “without a cover” and “surrounded by flames,” and sonar images provided by chief scientist and museum curator Victoria Tim O’Hara show a familiar outline.
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Announcing the discovery in The Conversation publication, O’Hara wrote that the volcano was slowly revealed using multibeam sonar at a depth of 3,100 meters below the Australian Organization’s RV Investigator ocean research vessel. Scientific and Industrial Research Center (CSIRO) about 280 kilometers southeast of Christmas. Island and Day 12 of the team’s trip to the Australian Indian Ocean Territories.
“Previously unknown and unimaginable, this volcano has emerged from our screens as a giant oval-shaped depression called a caldera, 6.2 kilometers by 4.8 kilometers in diameter. He is surrounded by 300 [meter]- high edge (resembling Sauron’s eyelids), and has a 300 [meter] high top in the shape of a cone at its…[center](the “student”), ”he explained.
According to the US National Park Service, a caldera forms after a massive volcanic eruption when the pressure inside the volcano decreases and the “empty system of shallow conduits and reservoirs” is no longer able to support the weight. from the mountain above and the volcano collapses down.
The agency notes that calderas can be over 25 kilometers in diameter and several kilometers in depth and are often circular in shape.
O’Hara notes that while underwater volcanic eruptions may go unnoticed, a telltale sign is the presence of light pumice rafts floating on the surface as a result of the geological event.
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In addition to the submarine volcano, additional three-dimensional mapping has uncovered two other seabed structures.
Also named for the fantastic traditions of Tolkein, a “flat-topped seamount” and volcanic-cone-covered seamount have been nicknamed Barad-niveau and Ered Lithui – both located near Sauron’s Eye in the hellish lands of Mordor.
“While author JRR Tolkein’s knowledge of mountain geology is not perfect, our names are wonderfully appropriate given the jagged nature of the former and the pumice-covered surface of the latter,” noted O’Hara.
All three features are part of a group of seamounts that were previously estimated to be over 100 million years old and that formed alongside an ancient sea ridge when Australia was positioned closer to Antarctica than Asia.
While Ered Lithui was formed by eroding waves – once protruding from the surface before sinking – O’Hara points out that the caldera looks much cooler than its sand and mud covered neighbor.
“Instead, it’s possible that volcanoes continued to sprout or new ones formed long after the original foundation was established,” he said. “Our restless Earth is never still. “
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Next, O’Hara and other representatives from museums, universities, CSIRO and Bush Blitz prepare to map the surrounding seabed and venture into the Cocos (Keeling) Island region.
“No doubt many of the animals we find here will be new to science and our earliest records of their existence will come from this region,” he said. “We expect many more surprising discoveries. “