Whales, seabirds drawn to chain of volcanic seamounts off Tasmanian coast

Date: October 8, 2018

Source: ABC News
Author: Carla Howarth

Scientists have uncovered a chain of volcanic seamounts towering up to three kilometres from the seafloor off Tasmania’s east coast which are proving a food magnet for marine life.

The underwater mountains, which are nearly 2 kilometres below the surface, were mapped by the CSIRO’s research vessel Investigator, 400 kilometres off the coast.

Dr Tara Martin, from the CSIRO mapping team, said some of the seamounts have sharp peaks while others have wide flat plateaus.

“We’re pretty sure that these seamounts were related to the break up of Australia and Antarctica. It was about 30 million years ago,” she said.

“So as Australia and Antarctica and Tasmania all broke up, a big hotspot came in under the earth’s crust, made these volcanoes and then helped the earth’s crust break so that all of those areas could start to drift apart.”

Dr Martin said sonars were used to map the seamounts in high resolution as the ship moved forward.

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