The volcanoes had remained hidden for millions of years. Image Credit: University of Aberdeen
The 'Tolkienesque' landscape is made up of 26 underwater volcanoes buried beneath seabed sediment.
This remarkable hidden realm was discovered by an international team of researchers using 3D seismic reflection - a geo-mapping technique that uses seismic waves to map the subsurface.
The volcanoes themselves, which are surrounded by lava features never studied before underwater, are buried around 820ft beneath the sediment on the sea floor.
Scientists believe that they originally formed somewhere between 33 and 50 million years ago.
"The technology we have used is similar in many ways to what is used to produce ultrasound images of babies, but for the Earth," said study author Nick Schofield from the University of Aberdeen.
"By using this technique, we have a unique insight into a landscape that has remained hidden for millions of years."
The network of lava flows surrounding the volcanoes, which are collectively known as the Bight Basin Igneous Complex, were thought to have formed during an eruption 35 million years ago.
Some of the largest flows measure more than 21 miles long and 9 miles wide.
Source: Live Science | Comments (3)