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Voyage to reveal more of Colville Ridge

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/09/2016

Scientists have begun a three-week voyage to map a previously uncharted section of the Colville Ridge, a large underwater structure 500km north-east of Auckland.

More than half of the ridge, which covers an estimated 100,000 sq km, sits within New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone, but little was known about it until the past few years.

The latest expedition, being undertaken by GNS Science on NIWA's deepwater research ship Tangaroa, is part of a long-term programme to survey regions within New Zealand's offshore territory.

Scientists will use the three techniques of sonar mapping, measurement of gravity and magnetism, and seafloor rock sampling.

The voyage builds on two others in 2013 and 2015 that mapped southern parts of the ridge totalling 40,000 sq km.

Those maps show a vast mountainous area dotted with extinct volcanic cones and peaks rising 1.5km above the surrounding seafloor.

The present trip's co-chief scientist, Fabio Caratori Tontini, says the crew is looking forward to discovering the submarine landscape of the northern part of the ridge.

The voyage plans to produce the first comprehensive, high-definition seafloor map, geophysical data sets and rock samples along the northern section.

The information is expected to provide new knowledge and understanding about the region's ancient volcanic activity.

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