The MH370 search area encompasses the seabed on and around Broken Ridge, an extensive linear, mountainous sea floor structure that once formed the margin between two geological plates. These plates spread apart between 20 and 100 million years ago, under similar processes found today at spreading plate margins such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
The sea floor around Broken Ridge still retains many of the large geological structures typical of spreading plate margins where volcanism and tectonic movements produce volcanoes (now extinct), high rugged ridges and deep trenches.
The recently acquired high-resolution bathymetry data has revealed many of these seabed features for the first time. It is also revealing finer-scale seabed features that were not visible in the previous low-resolution, satellite-derived bathymetry data.
These three-dimensional models of the sea floor terrain have been developed from high resolution (90-metre grid) bathymetric data from the survey in the southern part of the Indian Ocean.
The models show newly discovered sea floor features including:
- seamounts (remnant submarine volcanoes)
- ridges (semi –parallel) up to 300 meters high
- depressions up to 1400 metres deep (compared to the surrounding seafloor depths)
The identification of these features will assist in navigation during the underwater search phase.
- 26 September 2014
This three-dimensional model of the seafloor terrain is based on sparse pre-existing data, some of which has been derived from satellite gravity measurements and some from ocean passage soundings. The bathymetric survey currently underway is focussed on gathering more detailed and higher resolution data in preparation for the underwater search phase.