Scientists on a deep-sea expedition off Indonesia have discovered a towering volcano: It rises 3,000 meters from the ocean floor, yet remains far from sight at the water’s surface. US and Indonesian researchers, using a powerful sonar system and a robotic vehicle with high-definition video, are exploring terrain off Sulawesi island in hopes of getting a glimpse into complex and little-known marine ecosystems. They have mapped 6,200 square-kilometers of sea floor since setting off last month, an area equal to the size of the US state of Delaware, according to a news release from the American embassy in Jakarta. They found one undersea volcano that rises more than 3,000 meters in water 5,480-meters-deep, said Jim Holden, the chief US scientist for the first leg of the joint expedition. “This is a huge undersea volcano,” he said, “taller than all but three or four mountains in Indonesia.” The researchers hope the maps and video produced from the journey will pave the way for others who want to follow up on their preliminary findings. “The more we understand these undersea features and the communities of life they support, the better we can manage and protect the ocean and its resources,” said Holden, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Sugiarta Wirasantosa, the chief Indonesian scientist for the expedition, said the research could contribute to protecting ecosystems that support fisheries. The expedition concludes on August 14. [Source]
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