Massive structure taller than the Empire State Building discovered in Australia

The reef’s base stretches 1.5 kilometers wide and rises steeply, reaching its shallowest point 40 meters below the ocean’s surface.

[Oct. 26, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]

In an astonishing revelation from the depths of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, scientists have unveiled the discovery of a "massive" new reef. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

In an astonishing revelation from the depths of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, scientists have unveiled the discovery of a "massive" new reef. Standing tall at 500 meters (around 1,600 feet), this new reef is an underwater skyscraper, soaring even higher than some of the world's renowned architectural marvels, including the Empire State Building in New York and the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia.

This monumental discovery was made in the waters off North Queensland by researchers aboard the Falkor, a vessel from the Schmidt Ocean Institute. Notably, this is the first such reef to be uncovered in over a century. The researchers stumbled upon the massive structure as they meticulously mapped the seafloor of the northern stretches of the Great Barrier Reef.

For perspective, consider this: the newly discovered reef towers above the iconic Empire State Building, which measures 381 meters up to its top floor. It also surpasses the Sydney Tower's height of 305 meters and even the majestic Petronas Twin Towers, which stand at 451.9 meters.

SOI's underwater robot named SuBastian being deployed. (CREDIT: Schmidt Ocean Institute)

Deep Dive Exploration

Thanks to modern technology, the team wasn’t just limited to mapping. Using an underwater robotic explorer affectionately named SuBastian, they dived deep to examine this newfound marvel up close. The robot not only offered an intimate view of the reef but also enabled a live stream of the entire exploration, granting viewers worldwide a firsthand experience.

The reef's base, described as "blade-like," stretches 1.5 kilometers wide (almost 1 mile) and rises steeply, reaching its shallowest point 40 meters below the ocean's surface.

Interestingly, while this new reef stands out due to its recent discovery, it's not entirely alone. The area is home to seven other towering detached reefs, including the one at Raine Island, renowned as a vital nesting site for green turtles.

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Leading the expedition was Robin Beaman, who expressed his sheer astonishment. "To not only 3D map the reef in detail but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible," Beaman shared. The sentiment is a testament to the technological advancements that allow for such intricate ocean exploration.

Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, echoed this sense of wonder. "This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean," she stated, adding, "The state of our knowledge about what's in the ocean has long been so limited.

Thanks to new technologies that work as our eyes, ears, and hands in the deep ocean, we have the capacity to explore like never before. New oceanscapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us."

Newly discovered 500 meter tall detached reef adds to the seven other tall detached reefs in the northern Great Barrier Reef. (CREDIT: Schmidt Ocean Institute)

A Precious Ecosystem Under Threat

Spanning nearly 133,000 square miles, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest of its kind on our planet. This vibrant underwater ecosystem is teeming with life, housing over 1,500 fish species, 411 varieties of hard corals, and numerous other marine species.

However, behind the wonder of this discovery lies a grim reality. The Great Barrier Reef faces grave challenges. Recent studies have delivered concerning data, showing that the reef has witnessed a loss of 50% of its coral populations in merely the last three decades. A significant factor behind this disturbing trend is climate change, which is rapidly altering and disturbing this once-thriving ecosystem.

While the discovery of the new reef offers a glimmer of hope and wonder about the ocean's mysteries, it also underscores the urgency to address the looming threats.

Our ocean continues to surprise us, but it also serves as a reminder of the delicate balance and profound interdependence of life on Earth.

Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.

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Joseph Shavit
Joseph ShavitSpace, Technology and Medical News Writer
Joseph Shavit is the head science news writer with a passion for communicating complex scientific discoveries to a broad audience. With a strong background in both science, business, product management, media leadership and entrepreneurship, Joseph possesses the unique ability to bridge the gap between business and technology, making intricate scientific concepts accessible and engaging to readers of all backgrounds.