Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


World's longest continental volcano chain in Australia


Scientists have discovered the world's longest known chain of continental volcanoes, running 2,000 kilometers across Australia, from the Whitsundays in North Queensland to near Melbourne in central Victoria

Scientists have discovered the world's longest known chain of continental volcanoes, running 2,000 kilometres across Australia, from the Whitsundays in North Queensland to near Melbourne in central Victoria.

The Cosgrove volcano track is shown.

Credit: Drew Whitehouse, NCI National Facility VizLab

The volcanic chain was created over the past 33 million years, as Australia moved northwards over a hotspot in the Earth's mantle, said leader of the research Dr Rhodri Davies from The Australian National University (ANU).

"We realised that the same hotspot had caused volcanoes in the Whitsundays and the central Victoria region, and also some rare features in New South Wales, roughly halfway between them," said Dr Davies, from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences.

"The track is nearly three times the length of the famous Yellowstone hotspot track on the North American continent," said Dr Davies.

This kind of volcanic activity is surprising because it occurs away from tectonic plate boundaries, where most volcanoes are found. These hotspots are thought to form above mantle plumes, narrow upwellings of hot rock that originate at Earth's core-mantle boundary almost 3,000 kilometres below the surface.

The study, published in Nature, found that sections of the track have no volcanic activity because the Australian continent is too thick to allow the hot rock in mantle plumes to rise close enough to the Earth's surface for it to melt and form magma.

The research found that the plume created volcanic activity only where Earth's solid outer layer, called the lithosphere, is thinner than 130 kilometres.

These new findings will help scientists to understand volcanism on other continents and from earlier periods in Earth's history, said co-author Dr Nick Rawlinson, now at the University of Aberdeen's School of Geosciences.

"Ultimately this new understanding may help us to reconstruct the past movements of continents from other hotspots," he said.

The giveaway that the continent is just thin enough for melting to begin, such as in northern New South Wales, is the formation of an unusual mineral called leucitite.

Leucitite is found in low-volume magmas that are rich in elements such as potassium, uranium and thorium, said co-author Professor Ian Campbell from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences.

"Now that we know 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 the geological record better," Professor Campbell said.

The scientists have named the volcanic chain the Cosgrove hotspot track.

Dr Davies said the mantle plume that formed the Australian volcanoes is probably still in existence, under the sea a little to the northwest of Tasmania.

"There are observations of higher mantle temperatures and increased seismicity in this region," he said.

Media Contact

Dr. Rhodri Davies


Dr. Rhodri Davies | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Australia magma mantle movements of continents volcanic activity volcano

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>