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Scientists discover remnants of a massive undersea landslide on the Great Barrier Reef
On the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Australia, scientists have discovered remnants of a massive undersea landslide.

The scientists from James Cook University team who took part in the discovery have dated this massive undersea landslide to more than 300,000 years ago. The remains of the landslide are 30 times the volume of the iconic Uluru rock. They have been given the name 'Gloria Knolls Slide' and are located 75 km off the coast of Innisfail.

"This is all that remains after a massive collapse of sediment of about 32 cubic km volume (off the north coast of Queensland)," said Robin Beaman, one of the scientists who made this discovery.

The remains of the landslide include large blocks (Knolls) and smaller blocks. The smaller blocks lie scattered over an area of about 30 km and at a depth of about 1,350 metres.

"We were amazed to discover this cluster of knolls while 3D multibeam mapping the deep Great Barrier seafloor. In an area of the Queensland Trough that was supposed to be relatively flat were eight knolls, appearing like hills with some over 100 metre high and three km long," Beaman said.

"The oldest fossil corals recovered off the top of the knoll was 302 thousand years which means the landslide event that caused these knolls must be older," Angel Puga-Bernabeu said.

The scientists have also said that about one-third of the Great Barrier Reef lies beyond the seaward edge of the shallower reefs and thus the discovery of this prominent undersea landslide along with the vast debris field in the deep Great Barrier Reef reveals a far more complex landscape than was previously known.

The study is a collaborative effort between University of Sydney, James Cook University, University of Edinburgh, University of Granada and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

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