Undersea landslide discovered in Great Barrier Reef

Published On:February 9, 2017, 11:38 am

Undersea landslide While working on the Australian Great Barrier Reef, Queensland scientists discovered a massive landslide undersea. A landslide that might have sparked off a huge tsunami almost more than 300,000 years ago.

The remnants of an ancient undersea landslide is more than 30 times the volume of Uluru.

The remnants of the slip, called the Gloria Knolls Slide, were ascertained 75 kilometres off the north of Queensland coast. The scientists were working from the Marine National Facility’s blue water research ship Southern Surveyor.

The Gloria Knoll Slide is a minimum of 300,000 years old and 32 cubic km involume.It was the international team behind it who determined the fact that this could have possibly actuated the tsunami.

This slide as it has been discovered, is just one of the seven undersea landslides which has been discovered by researchers in the recent years.

However, seeing the total volume of the landslide being around 32 cubic kilometres,it has been concluded that this is by far the largest. The debris was 4,430 ft. below the sea and it also gave clues pertaining to hidden life.

Dr Robin Beaman, researcher from James Cook university said the series of huge blocks were initially discovered at the time of ocean surveys off the coast of Innisfail in 2007.

He said, "It's taken quite a number of cruises since to actually find the smoking gun [that proves] where these blocks came from."

Dr.Beaman mentioned that fossil corals that are found on the bottom of the blocks indicate that the landslide must have happened at least 300,000 years ago and might have triggered a tsunami wave of more than 25 metres high.

Post the discovery, there were questions that were raised regarding how often these undersea landslides actually happened, and what potential risk could it pose to the Queensland coastline.

He added, "It seems that there's a fairly low risk because when we put it into context this is a very old feature, but it's an area of interest we would like to explore a bit further.”

Nevertheless, the wave would probably be weakened considerably by the presence of any coral reefs, according to researchers.

Substantially, many more seabed mapping and sampling is required to completely evaluate the tsunami hazard to the Queensland coast laid by these types of underwater landslides.

As per the scientists, one third of the Great Barrier Reef lies beyond the seaward edge of the shallower reefs, and with this latest discovery and it enormous debris field in the deep Great Barrier Reef surfaces a further complex landscape as compared to the previously known.

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