Scientists Discover an Enormous, Hidden Reef Behind the Great Barrier Reef


Australian researchers have investigated signs of geological structures hidden behind the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, and have found a much deeper reef spanning more than 6,000 square kilometres (2,316 square miles).

New seafloor maps of the area have revealed a vast, underwater field of doughnut-shaped mounds, each one measuring 200 to 300 metres (656 to 984 feet) across, and some as much as 30 metres deep.

Scientists have seen hints of this enormous reef for over 30 years, but until now, haven’t had the chance to investigate it properly.

Fortunately, Royal Australian Navy aircraft fitted with LiDAR remote sensing technology have been flying over the area, and have finally mapped the shape, size, and vast scale of the deep reef.

“We’ve now mapped over 6,000 square kilometres. That’s three times the previously estimated size, spanning from the Torres Strait to just north of Port Douglas,” says one of the researchers, Mardi McNeil from Queensland University of Technology.

“They clearly form a significant inter-reef habitat which covers an area greater than the adjacent coral reefs.”


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