Vivid, detailed maps created during the unsuccessful hunt for MH370 have been published by investigators to shed light on the depths of remote and previously unexplored parts of the ocean.
(From NBC News / by Alastair Jamieson) — The maps reveal the location and scale of under-sea volcanoes, ridges, mountains and shipwrecks found on the floor of the Indian Ocean.
A painstaking two-year search of the sea bed ended in January without finding the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board.
But data gathered during surveys of some 46,000 square miles of the waters west of Australia could provide oceanographers and geologists with unprecedented insight.
Among the information released to the public Wednesday by Geoscience Australia is an interactive map of suspected debris from the doomed jet and the location where it was found.
The data also includes three-dimensional models of undersea landforms as well as raw bathymetric survey information. A further tranche of data is due to be published next year.
“It is estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of the world’s oceans have been surveyed with the kind of technology used in the search for MH370, making this remote part of the Indian Ocean among the most thoroughly-mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet,” Stuart Minchin, chief of Geoscience Australia’s environmental geoscience division, said in a news release.
The information should also give insight to deep-sea fishermen into the region, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia, told Reuters.
“There are the locations of seamounts which will attract a lot of international deep sea fishermen to the area,” Pattiaratchi said.
High-priced fish such as tuna, toothfish, orange roughy, alfonsino and trevally are known to gather near the seamounts, where plankton swirl in the currents.
Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for MH370 but officials have said that would depend on finding “credible new evidence” about the plane’s whereabouts.
“No new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft and the underwater search remains suspended,” Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement Wednesday.