From sunken ships to undersea land masses, advances in underwater mapping technology are helping scientists around the world explore the ocean depths.
According to a National Geographic article, researchers recently discovered the largest known volcano to date—Tamu Massif. The massive underwater volcano lies approximately 1,000 miles east of Japan and 2,000 meters below the ocean’s surface. Its size is 280 by 400 miles. William Sager, a geologist at the University of Houston, and students from Japan’s Chiba University used sonar and magnetometers to map more than a million square kilometers of the ocean floor surrounding Tamu Massif. Their research suggests Tamu Massif formed approximately 145 million years ago.
According to Space News, a team of Australian and U.S. researchers used satellite data to discover the Mammerickx Microplate, a small tectonic plate in the Indian Ocean. Combining seafloor maps with radar data from NASA’s Jason-1 ocean surveying spacecraft, researchers were able to identify the microplate and learn that India impacted with Eurasia roughly 47 million years ago. About the size of West Virginia, the Mammerickx Microplate is the first to be discovered in the Indian Ocean.
Traveling across the world to the North Sea, Wired reports researchers are focusing their attention on remnants of a land mass called Doggerland, which was swallowed by the sea around 10,000 BC. The European Research Council selected Vincent Gaffney, an archaeologist at the University of Bradford, and his team to map the land and take DNA samples to determine whether there was at one point animal or plant life living on the island. Gaffney and his team hope to reconstruct Doggerland to better understand it.
If shipwrecks pique your interest, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has put together 3D interactive tours of seven sunken ships found in Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay. Users can tour each shipwreck to learn more about the ship and its wreck history.
Photo Credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute