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Scientists studying the Mediterranean Sea have discovered three large underwater volcanoes and a sunken shipwreck more than 300 feet long. The study represents an important discovery that sheds light on a previously unexplored sea floor. Newsweek reports.
According to the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics (OGS), the expedition named M191 SUAVE took place on board the German ship meteor Between July 16th and August 5th. The ship used sonar and a magnetometer to survey the previously unexplored sea floor along the Channel of Sicily (the strait between the island of Sicily and the North African country of Tunisia).
As a result, the expedition discovered three large underwater volcanoes. Each is at least 3.5 miles wide and rises more than 490 feet above the surrounding sea floor. The researchers collected rock samples for study in the coming months. Although there is hydrothermal activity in the area, according to Watchman The researchers think it is unlikely that the volcanoes are still active.
“This information will be essential for reconstructing the geological history of one of the most complex regions of the central Mediterranean where, starting about four to five million years ago, a system of deep craters developed associated with tectonic processes,” Julia Matilda Ferrante said, OGS researcher who participated in the expedition.
The expedition also discovered a 330-foot-long shipwreck, lying at a depth of 360 feet, about halfway between the volcanic island of Linosa and Sicily. However, not much is known about the wreck, as researchers have not been able to determine its age.
In addition to making new discoveries, the expedition also debunked some of the existing beliefs about bathymetry in the area. Several previously reported seamounts (submerged mountains created by volcanic activity) have been found not to actually exist.
“It is amazing that new geological elements have been discovered even today in a sea like the Mediterranean, which has been crossed by all kinds of boats for thousands of years. This clearly shows how little the sea floor is known, even near the coasts,” said OGS researcher Jonathan Ford, who was on the expedition, Newsweek.
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