Scientists Discover "Superstructure" In Pacific Ocean That Has Been Growing Since Dinosaur Age

According to the study, the plateau began forming thanks to volcanic eruptions that occurred during the Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years ago).

Scientists Discover 'Superstructure' In Pacific Ocean That Has Been Growing Since Dinosaur Age

The plateau first began forming 120 million years ago, as per the study. (Representative pic)

A team of scientists has uncovered the secrets of an underwater "superstructure" in the Pacific Ocean that has been growing since the age of the dinosaurs. According to a study published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, the plateau called the Melanesian Border Plateau is located to the east of the Solomon Islands and covers an area larger than the US state of Idaho. The researchers used a combination of seismic data, rock samples, geochemical analysis and computer models to reconstruct the history and structure of the Melanesian Border Plateau.

According to the study, the plateau began forming thanks to volcanic eruptions that occurred during the Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years ago), when some of the most well-known dinosaur species, such as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, walked the planet. It formed in four distinct phases, each with a different root cause and a different volcanic signature.

The study's lead author, Kevin Konrad, a geoscientist at the University of Nevada, explained that underwater volcanic features are often poorly understood. In some cases, such superstructures have formed with one large flood of magma, whereas others are formed over a long period of time and from several volcanic events, he said. 

"There are some features in the Pacific basin where [scientists] have only a single sample, and it looks like a very large massive single event," Mr Konrad told Live Science. "Sometimes when we sample these features in detail, we realise they're actually built over multiple pulses over tens of millions of years and wouldn't have significant environmental impacts," he continued. 

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Researchers sampled the Melanesian Border Plateau in detail in 2013, during a five-week research mission. They learned it is likely the plateau first began forming 120 million years ago.

The plateau is one of the many oceanic mid-plate superstructures that exist in the Pacific basin. According to the study, these superstructures are different from the large igneous provinces that are created by a single massive volcanic event. They are also distinct from the mid-ocean ridges that are formed by the spreading of the oceanic plates.

The researchers now hope that their findings will shed light on the origin and evolution of these superstructures, as well as their impact on the environment and the biodiversity of the ocean. They also hope that their study will inspire further exploration and research of the hidden wonders of the deep sea.

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