Thanks to new data provided by satellites, researchers have found a new and more accurate way to map the seabed. The improved resolution has allowed them for now to identify some phenomena, such as thousands of extinct volcanoes over 1,000 meters high, and clarify some uncertainties in the geological history of the Earth, reports ‘Science’.
Compared to the previous map from 1997, the resolution of the new one is twice as good and up to four times better in coastal areas and the Arctic, explains study lead author David Sandwell, a marine geophysicist at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography in California. . Thanks to the new map, the world's volcano inventory has undergone a major revision: according to Sandwell, the number of these underwater elevations increased from about 5,000 to 20,000.
For the first time, the topography of the world's seabed captures the abyssal hills, very common in the geography of the planet. Although their origin is still debated, scientists believe they arose due to a combination of faults and volcanism in the expanding ridges.
Sandwell and his colleagues also highlighted the new details seen in the fracture zones stretching from South America to Africa. In the Gulf of Mexico, researchers identified an extinct ocean ridge, now buried under miles of sediment. The ridge opened the gulf about 150 million years ago, when the Yucatan peninsula turned to the left of North America.