An international team of researchers led by the University of Leeds discovered a new type of basalt rock created during large and exceptionally volcanic eruptions beneath the Pacific Ocean.

The rock was a previously unknown basalt rock that was unearthed after drilling through the Pacific ocean floor, reported.

Dr. Ivan Savov, the co-author of the study from Leeds' Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, said that their findings suggest that ocean floor eruptions in Earth's mantle were hotter and more voluminous than previously thought.

The full findings of the study, entitled "Basalt derived from highly refractory mantle sources during early Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc development," were published in Nature Communications as part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).

Unique From Previously Known Rocks

According to Savov, their findings prove that there are more to discover deep beneath the Earth despite the many recent discoveries made through space exploration.

Furthermore, he noted that the new basalt rock they discovered was uniquely different from the rocks of the same type that were previously known. It is distinctly different both from its chemical and mineral make-up.

"Now that we know where and how this rock type is formed, we anticipate that many other rocks that we know were originally formed by ocean floor eruptions will be re-examined and potentially alter our wider understanding of the basalt formation," Savov said.

According to the news outlet, the newly discovered basalt was previously unknown as there were no new examples have been formed in millions of years. This resulted in the basalt-type rock lying buried deep beneath the sediment at the Pacific Ocean's bottom.

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Finding the New Rock

The research team aboard the Research Vessel JOIDES "Resolution" used drilling equipment that sank to 6km of the Amami Sankaku Basin's ocean floor, about 1,000km southwest of Mout Fuji volcano in Japan. The team drilled 1.5km into the ocean floor to get some samples that have never been analyzed by scientists before.

The area is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a place for regular volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that stretches 40,000km around the Pacific and is thought to have started forming 50 million years ago.

According to Dr. Savov, this part of the ocean is one of the deepest waters ever considered for drilling using a research vessel designed for challenging deep-sea environments.

He pointed out that basalt is one of the most common types of rocks on Earth. Their research is finding such rock at the bottom of the ocean floor, particularly in the Ring of Fire area, where it would have been formed during volcanic eruptions.

According to SciTech Daily, the newly discovered basalt rock was very widespread that it reaches areas the size of western Europe. It most likely formed in such a relatively short period of 1-2 million years.

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