September 2015 – AUSTRALIA – The world’s longest continental volcano chain has been discovered in Australia, according to a study recently published in Nature. Researchers from Australia National University have plotted a 1,200-mile line of volcanic activity running from Cape Hillsborough in northern Queensland south to Cosgrove in Victoria and even extending on to the island of Tasmania. “The track is nearly three times the length of the famous Yellowstone hotspot track on the North American continent,” said study coauthor Dr. Rhodri Davies in a release from ANU.
“The gap in the chain coincides with a thickness where the plume can’t melt, whereas in Queensland the plume can get to a shallower depth, meaning you get more impressive, larger volcanoes,” Davies told the UK Guardian. The research found that the plume created volcanic activity only where Earth’s solid outer layer, called the lithosphere, is thinner than 80 miles.
“Ultimately this new understanding may help us to reconstruct the past movements of continents from other hotspots,” he said. “It is always nice to discover something like this,” Davies told the Guardian. “We are getting much better at understanding volcanism in Australia. People don’t realize we have the most extensive volcanoes on Earth but there are still some individual provinces yet to explore.” –Weather