In December 2012, Dr Benjamin Cohen from the University of Queensland led a team on board Australia’s Marine National Facility research vessel, Southern Surveyor, to explore, map and take seafloor samples of the Tasmantid Seamounts.

Here’s a little excerpt from Ben Cohen’s summary of his voyage, and  some fabulous photos.

The ocean floor is the Earth’s last great frontier: we have better Lunar and Martian maps than of our own planet.

Part of this great unknown lies on Australia’s doorstep, only 150-600 km east of the mainland. Here a 2000 km long chain of submerged volcanoes rise over 4000 m above the seafloor – nearly twice the height of Mt Kosciusko, Australia’s highest mountain on land.

These undersea mountains – the Tasmantid Seamounts – are extinct volcanoes formed above a mantle hotspot, similar to the Hawaiian Islands. Our expedition aimed to map and sample the Tasmantid volcanoes with state-of-the-art technologies aboard Australia’s Marine National Facility research vessel Southern Surveyor.

The maps have enabled visualization of these volcanoes in unprecedented detail. Meanwhile, samples collected during the expedition allow us to study these volcanoes back in the laboratory, allowing us to address questions such as the volcanic age and eruptive history, and subsequent growth of carbonate reefs upon the extinct volcanic pedestals.

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