Perth As The ‘Path-Finder’
Remains of an ancient coral reef have recently been discovered in the Australian desert. Researchers have claimed that the height of this coral reef, consisting of limestone bedrock, was no less than 4,000ft at one point of time. A vast desert covers nearly 76,000 square miles in the southern part of Australia. However, it was covered by a tropical ocean about 14 million years ago.
Researchers from the Timescales of Mineral Systems Group at Curtin University‘s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Perth spotted the reef in the third week of September 2022, as a bull’s-eye shape on new high-resolution satellite imagery. They consider this discovery very important, as far as the history of Australia is concerned. Remains of coral reef have helped researchers confirm that the topography of the southern part of the island nation has not undergone any significant climatic change. Hence, many ancient signs still remain intact there.
Currently, around 18% of mainland Australia is desert. For hundreds of millions of years, Australia was covered with rainforests and seas, including the ocean that once put the Nullarbor Plain underwater. The coral reef formed under the sea at that period of time. In a statement, Geologist Milo Barham of Curtin University said: “Unlike many parts of the world, large areas of the Nullarbor Plain have remained largely unchanged by weathering and erosion processes over millions of years, making it a unique geological canvas and recording ancient history in remarkable ways.” He stressed: “Through high-resolution satellite imagery and fieldwork, we have identified the clear remnant of an original sea-bed structure preserved for millions of years, which is the first of this kind of landform discovered on the Nullarbor Plain.“
In a report, the Earth Surface Processes and Landforms journal has mentioned that the coral reef structure has a circular elevated rim and a central dome shape, while the diameter of this structure is between 3,950 and 4,250ft. The journal has stated that “the structure is distinct from other landforms observed on the plain and cannot be explained by any of the geological processes common to the area”. Meanwhile, Barham has explained: “The ring-shaped ‘hill’ cannot be explained by extra-terrestrial impact or any known deformation processes, but preserves original microbial textures and features typically found in the modern Great Barrier Reef.“
Barham has stated: “Evidence of the channels of long-vanished rivers, as well as sand dune systems imprinted directly into limestone, preserve an archive of ancient landscapes and even a record of the prevailing winds.” He added: “And it is not only landscapes. Isolated cave shafts punctuating the Nullarbor Plain preserve mummified remains of Tasmanian tigers and complete skeletons of long-extinct wonders such as Thylacoleo, the marsupial lion.” The Lead Researcher has insisted: “At the surface, due to the relatively stable conditions, the Nullarbor Plain has preserved large quantities of meteorites, allowing us to peer back through time to the origins of our solar system.” He told the press: “These features, in conjunction with the millions of years old landscape features, we have now identified, effectively make the Nullarbor Plain a land that time forgot and allow a fascinating deeper understanding of Earth’s history.“
Corals are, basically, marine invertebrates within the class Anthozoa of the phylum Cnidaria. Coral species include the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. Coral reefs protect adjacent land from storms and other natural disasters. Coral reefs still exist off the coast of Australia, and a large part of the Australian population depends on these corals.
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