Volcanic discoveries create Sydney’s hottest new suburb

By Nicholas Kachel

13 July 2015

A heat map shows craters below the ocean.

A map of the newly discovered volcanic peaks off Sydney, showing their depth relative to the surface.

We’ve found a cluster of ancient hotheads just east of the Sydney CBD – forgotten relics of an era long passed. And no, it’s not the clientele at Bondi Icebergs on a Sunday afternoon.

Our new ocean explorer, RV Investigator, has discovered four extinct volcanoes 200 kilometres off the coast of Sydney, hidden under almost five kilometres of ocean. The calderas are estimated to be over 50 million years old, putting even the most seasoned Sydney socialites to shame.

Investigator was actually in the area on other business – searching for the nursery grounds of larval lobsters – when it came across the cluster. The ship is constantly mapping the sea floor as it travels, opening up a previously undiscovered and unknown world. Our previous research vessel could only map to 3000 metres, missing important geological features like the calderas. Investigator can map the ocean to any depth (although it’s yet to find James Cameron).

Being the handy little workers we are, we’ve created a 3D flyover of the volcano cluster for your viewing pleasure:

But the volcanoes aren’t the only hot new talking point in Sydney’s far east. According to the chief scientist for the voyage, UNSW marine biologist Professor Iain Suthers, the team were amazed to discover an eddy off Sydney that was a hotspot for lobster larvae and other tiny critters, at a time of the year when they were not expecting them.

This discovery turned the previous understanding of juvenile commercial fish species on its head.

“We had thought fish only developed in coastal estuaries, and that once larvae were swept out to sea that was end of them. But in fact, these eddies are nursery grounds for commercial fisheries along the east coast of Australia.”

Check out some of the samples  the team collected (a few of which wouldn’t look out of place on the dancefloor of the Eastern at 3am):

We can’t wait to hear about more amazing discoveries from the Investigator as it continues its travels. For all the latest on our Marine National Facility, including a virtual tour, check out our website.

Unfortunately, we can’t yet recommend the far east as a solution to Sydney’s housing crisis. We hear they don’t even have a Gelato Messina out there yet.