The longest continental volcanic chain stretches 2,000 kilometers across Australian continent
Scientists have recently discovered the world’s longest chain of volcanoes in a single content, hidden in Australia.
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The volcanic chain stretches 2,000 kilometers across Australia, from North Queensland to Melbourne and was created over the past 33 million years, a time when Austria shifted to Northwards over a hotspot in Earth’s mantle.
“We realized that same hotspot had caused volcanoes in Whitsundays and the central Victoria region and also some rare features in New South Wales, roughly halfway between them.” Dr. Rhodri Davies, lead researcher from Australian National University.
The track which is called “Cosgrove hotspot track” is almost three times long from famous “Yellowstone hotspot track” spanned over North America.
The discovery is not a complete surprise since scattered chains of volcanoes were found in the island before. Precisely, four separate tracks with volcanic activity in eastern side of Australia. But some of the regions were hundreds of miles away from each other that made scientists think that these volcano tracks are not connected.
In the recent research, scientists have just discovered the missing link. They have found a hidden hotspot underneath the surface that is showing no signs of volcanic activity. Combined together, these separated chains turn into a mega volcanic chain.
The hidden hotspot is not common. Hotspots usually form above mantle plumes and show signs of surface volcanism. But some sections of track have no volcanic activity because plumes require the outer solid layer of earth to be thinner than 130 kilometers to create volcanic activity.
Australian continent is too thick to allow mantle plumes to rise and melt earth surface and form magma.
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“Now we know that there is a direct relationship between the volume and chemical composition of magma and the thickness of the continent, we can go back and interpret geological record better.” Professor Ian Campbell, the co-author of the study said.