RSV Nuyina makes Antarctic canyon discovery

By Melissa Coade

January 24, 2022

A cave cut into an iceberg
The Vanderford Glacier. (AAP Image/Supplied by the Australian Antarctic Division)

A new canyon discovery more than 2,200 metres beneath the Southern Ocean in eastern Antarctica has been made during the maiden voyage of an Australian research vessel.

Scientists estimate the canyon as stretching at least 55 kilometres from the Vanderford Glacier and knowledge about its existence has previously been unknown, despite decades of expeditions to the area.

Environment minister Sussan Ley said the Nuyina ice breaker had already shared ‘amazing insights’ on its maiden voyage, earlier mapping an underwater mountain that was higher than Mt Kosciuszko. 

“The world-leading acoustic technology on the Nuyina is shedding new light on the secrets of Southern Ocean,” Ley said. 

“In this case, Nuyina has turned what would have been a relatively routine journey back from the refuelling Casey station into a voyage of genuine discovery.”

The icebreaker is due to return to Hobart by the end of January, in time to prepare for another voyage to Davis and Macquarie Island research stations in Antarctica.

The minister added that with the capabilities of the ice breaker, Australia was ‘opening the door to new levels of polar research’ and it would be used to study marine ecosystems of the Southern Ocean and better understand the climate.

RSV Nuyina
The RSV Nuyina. (AAP Image/Supplied by Australian Antarctic Division, Pete Harmsen)


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