Scientists at ANU have discovered the world’s longest chain of continental volcanoes, nearly three times the length of the famous Yellowstone track in North America.
The Cosgrove hotspot track extends 2,000 kilometres from the Whitsundays in North Queensland down to near Melbourne in Victoria.
As most volcanoes occur on tectonic plate boundaries, to have such a long chain on home soil is a surprise. However, many parts of the track have no volcanic activity because Australia is too thick for the hot rock in mantle plumes to rise closer to the Earth’s surface and melt.
Authors Dr Nick Rawlinson and Professor Ian Campbell said the discovery came from the formation of leucitite, a rare mineral found in low-volume magmas. The mineral is only found where the continent is thin enough for the hot rock to begin melting.
This discovery will help scientists to better interpret the geological record, including the past movement of continents.
[img source] The Australian National University
The above story is based on materials provided by the Australian National University.