Four enormous underwater volcanoes, thought to be about 50m years old, have been discovered off the coast of Sydney by a team of scientists who were looking for lobster larvae.
The volcano cluster was spotted through sonar mapping of the sea floor by Investigator, Australia’s new ocean-going research vessel, about 250km off the coast.
The four volcanoes are calderas, large bowl-shaped craters caused when a volcano erupts and the land around it collapses. The largest is 1.5km across the rim and rises 700m from the sea floor. The 20km-long volcano cluster is nearly 5km underwater.
Professor Iain Suthers, a marine biologist at the University of NSW, said the volcano discovery was made when the team was searching for nursery grounds for larval lobsters.
“My jaw just dropped,” Suthers told Guardian Australia. “I immediately said, ‘What are they doing there and why didn’t we know about them before?’ It really backs up the statement that we know more about the surface of the moon than our sea floor.