Scientists find huge ancient landslide on Great Barrier Reef

Darnell ReidFeb 11, 2017

Around 300,000 years ago, a ridge near Australia's Great Barrier Reef collapsed, unleashing a massive undersea avalanche.

The remains of the ancient slip, known as the Gloria Knolls Slide, were discovered 75km off the north Queensland coast, and at the bottom of the Queensland Trough - a vast basin that runs adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Fortunately, no one was around to witness the landslide or a resultant tsunami, as the first humans likely didn't arrive until about 250,000 years later. The discovery was made unexpectedly when researchers from Marine National Facility were carrying out a three-dimensional mapping of the seafloor around the Great Barrier Reef.

If such a landslide happened today, it's hard to tell whether it would create as massive a tsunami, because the area is now surrounded by corals of the Great Barrier Reef.

Researchers led by Angel Puga-Bernabéu from the University of Granada in Spain found the landslide after discovering a debris field of large blocks on the ocean floor that had scattered up to 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) from the site of the collapse, coming to rest in an area called the Queensland Trough.

"It's completely dark, it's quite cold, about 4 degrees Celsius, and yet we have a habitat for cold water corals that are attached to rocks buried in the mud", said Dr Beaman.

Prehistoric undersea landslides have been recorded before, including the Agulhas slide - an event that unleashed 20,000 cubic km of debris off South Africa about 2.6 million years ago.


Other evidence of the landslide would have been buried over time, he said.

Although modelling had put its elevation as high as 27m, the impact of a tsunami would have been significantly offset by the presence of coral reefs. "If it was in existence at the time of this landslide, it would have done a similar job".

Already the team of worldwide researchers have been surprised by the marine life they have found in the deep-sea conditions where temperatures can drop to 4 degrees Celsius and it is pitch black. James Cook University's researcher Dr Robin Beaman said in a statement.

After the initial discovery, there's more to be found out about this fascinating area.

Experts from the University of Sydney, the University of Edinburgh and the Australian Organization for Nuclear Science and Technology also participated in the study, which was conducted on the research ship "Southern Surveyor".

Related Articles:



« Previous article
Next article »


Popular Pages

ZTE expected to launch its first Android Wear smartwatch soon
The update also brings Google Assistant to your wrist, along with more wearable-appropriate ways to respond to incoming messages. It's bigger than the Style , with NFC , GPS, 4G LTE, a heart rate monitor, and dedicated buttons for Google Fit and Android Pay .

12 dead following landslide in Bali
A national disaster agency spokesman said the landslide hit at about 23:00 on Thursday (1500 GMT), and was caused by heavy rain. Landslides and flooding have killed at least 12 people on the Indonesian island of Bali , it was confirmed on Friday.

Bucks SF to Undergo Season-Ending Knee Surgery
Parker left Milwaukee's game Wednesday night, February 8th against the Miami Heat in the third quarter with a sprained left knee. Will Parker come back anything like the player he was becoming? But, as released on Thursday afternoon, the news was much worse.

Yemen Pulls US Special Ops Permissions After Raid
Only a few more days passed before US military officials revealed that everything went wrong in the ground operation. The first was the 2014 special forces raid to save two hostages, one a USA national, from an Al-Qaeda base.

Alongside Trump, Intel Reannounces Arizona Factory
The company added that the new plant would also help local businesses and fuel long-term job opportunities in the region. In an email to Intel employees, Krzanich explained the company's rationale for the Chandler factory investment.

Rio Tinto Bounces Back with $4.62 Billion in Profit in 2016
Rio Tinto has ridden the commodities wave over the previous year , with its share price nearly doubling. The company generated operating cash flow of U.S. $8.5 billion and cut cash costs by US$1.6 billion.

IAAF: Athletics-Russia unlikely to be re-admitted before November
The new ban is a huge blow to the country, which has been plagued by doping scandals in the past two years. The IAAF said the ban would not affect 15 applications to switch allegiance which have already been made.

Third New England Patriots Player Declines White House Trip
Outspoken tight end Martellus Bennett was the first Patriot to pass on going to visit with Donald Trump. "I can't imagine a way I go there".

EIA Slashes Crude Oil Demand Forecast
Oil prices remained stable as lower crude production from OPEC countries balanced the increase in United States shale production. The trading boom that cushioned the profits of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP through the price slump appears to be over.

Netflix has confirmed that The OA will return for a second season
Based on that success, Netflix has announced that it will go forward with a second season of the series. Previously blind, she now possesses sight and odd scar markings on her back.