Biggest Fault On Earth Discovered

Posted: Nov 29 2016, 12:23pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 29 2016, 8:45pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Biggest Fault on Earth Discovered
Credit: Australian National University

The discovery could help explain why a 7 km-deep abyss beneath the Banda Sea off eastern Indonesia was formed.

Buried inside miles of underwater area in eastern Indonesia, a massive fault lies. For the first time, geologists have directly observed it and they believe it could be the reason why a 7.2 km deep abyss was formed under the Banda Sea.

Named Banda Detachment, the massive fault runs right through Ring of Fire, an area around Pacific Ocean known for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, while the abyss exists deep down under the Banda Sea, which is connected to the Pacific Ocean. The abyss is known as Weber Deep and it is the deepest point of the Earth’s ocean not within a trench.

Although researchers have been aware of existence of abyss for years but the exact reason how it was made and why it is so deep was yet to be revealed.

“The abyss has been known for 90 years but until now no one has been able to explain how it got so deep,” said lead researcher Dr Jonathan Pownall from The Australian National University (ANU).

“Our research found that a 7 km-deep abyss beneath the Banda Sea off eastern Indonesia was formed by extension along what might be Earth's largest-identified exposed fault plane.”

Using high resolution maps of Banda Sea floor, researchers have detected hundreds of straight parallel scars on the rocks found at the bottom of the sea, suggesting that a piece of crust bigger than Belgium must have been ripped apart by a massive crack or detachment fault a long time ago.

Banda Detachment extends 60,000 square kilometers over the cracked seafloor and it has formed a deep depression in the ocean floor.

“The discovery will help explain how one of the Earth's deepest sea areas became so deep.” Dr Pownall said.

A vast majority of faults like Banda Detachment cause earthquakes under the ocean, which is why they can unleash tsunamis too. This find can help researches assess the dangers of future tsunamis in the area.

Dr Pownall says. “In a region of extreme tsunami risk, knowledge of major faults such as the Banda Detachment, which could make big earthquakes when they slip, is fundamental to being able to properly assess tectonic hazards.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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