An ancient underwater volcano resembling the "Eye of Sauron" from the Lord of the Rings trilogy has been discovered 280 kilometers southeast of Christmas Island. This was the 12th day of an Australian Indian Ocean voyage aboard the CSIRO special research vessel, the RV Investigator.
This volcano appeared on the screens of the RV Investigator as a huge oval depressing shape called a caldera.
A caldera is formed when a volcano collapses. The molten magma at the base of the volcano shifts upward, leaving empty chambers. The thin solid crust on the surface of the dome collapses, creating a large crater-like structure. Often, a small new peak begins to form in the center as the volcano continues to erupt magma.
One well-known caldera is the one in Krakatoa, Indonesia, which erupted in 1883, killing tens of thousands of people and leaving only fragments of the mountain ridge visible above the waves. By 1927, a small volcano, Anak Krakatoa ("Krakatoa child"), had grown in its center.
Many times we do not even know about volcanic eruptions when they occur deep under the ocean. One of the few signs is the presence of patterns of light pumice floating on the surface of the sea after an underwater volcano erupts. Eventually, this pumice sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
The volcanic "Sauron's Eye" was not alone. Further mapping to the south revealed a smaller sea mountain covered with many volcanic cones, and even further south was a larger, flat peak. The organization, following the Lord of the Rings theme, named them Barad-far and Ered Lithui, Respectively.
The Eye of Sauron, Barad-far, and Ered Lithui are part of the Karma cluster with sea mountains previously estimated by geologists to be over 100 million years old and formed next to an ancient sea ridge by a time when Australia was much further south, close to Antarctica.
The mission of the organization is to map the seabed and examine the marine life of these ancient and isolated landscapes.
Source of information: abc.net.au