A lengthy series of supervolcano eruptions that occurred in the ancient past, lasting from around 122 million years ago to 90 million years ago, was the result of "a subterranean 'conveyor belt' of magma, pushing up to Earth's surface for millions of years", Science Alert reported, citing new international research led by scientists from the Curtin University in Australia.
According to the media outlet, this process took place on the Kerguelen Plateau, which now rests beneath the waves of the Indian Ocean, with researchers remarking that the resulting "accumulation of magma and lava" presents an opportunity to "trace volcanic activity back through time".
"Extremely large accumulations of volcanic rocks – known as large volcanic provinces – are very interesting to scientists due to their links with mass extinctions, rapid climatic disturbances, and ore deposit formation," said Qiang Jiang, a geologist from Curtin University and one of the authors of the study.
The research suggests that this lengthy volcanic activity was made possible by The Kerguelen Plateau's "unique configuration" in the form of "a mantle plume combining with slow spreading mid-ocean ridges channelling the magma upwards".
"The volcanism lasted for so long because magmas caused by the mantle plume were continuously flowing out through the mid-oceanic ridges, which successively acted as a channel, or a 'magma conveyor belt' for more than 30 million years," said geologist Hugo Olierook, a geologist at Curtin University and a study co-author.
And as Curtin University geochronologist Fred Jourdan, who was also involved in the study, added, discovering this "long, continuous eruption activity" helps "understand what factors can control the start and end of volcanic activity".
"This has implications for how we understand magmatism on Earth, and on other planets as well", he surmised.