The disappearance of Malaysian Air flight MH370, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, remains one of the worlds greatest aviation mysteries. After surveying over 120,000 square kilometers of Indian Ocean and reportedly spending $160 million, the search for the missing plane was finally called off last January.
Even though the plane was not found, the information gathered during the massive search, however, may provide fishermen, oceanographers and geologists with insight into the region in unprecedented detail, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia.
As reported by the Guardian: “There are the locations of seamounts which will attract a lot of international deep-sea fishermen to the area,” Pattiaratchi told Reuters. 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 in the inhospitable waters.
Pattiaratchi said the location of seamounts would also help model the impact of tsunamis in the region, given undersea mountains help dissipate their destructive energy, and potentially change our understanding of the break-up of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana.
The data consists of three-dimensional models of undersea landforms as well as raw bathymetric survey information. It was published online by Geoscience Australia …, with a further tranche due to be published next year.
“It is estimated that only 10% to 15% 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,” said Stuart Minchin, chief of Geoscience Australia’s environmental geoscience division.
Thanks to David Rye and Irwin Bryan for contributing to this post.