In March of 2014, a Malaysian Airlines flight out of Kuala Lumpur to Beijing mysteriously disappeared. There has been no conclusive evidence or survivors to date, and after an extensive search of almost three years, the tri-national search team has instead made a discovery that they didn’t expect.
Although pieces of a plane have been found along the shores of Madagascar and Tanzania, among others, the aircraft itself has yet to be located. Though they didn’t find further evidence in their search, the investigation led to data on the ocean floor in existence, which could help scientists for decades to come. The search team used a certain technology during their search of the Indian Ocean that has only been used in 10-15% of the world’s waterways.
According to Stuart Minchin, environmental geoscience chief for Geoscience Australia, the region is “among the most thoroughly mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet.” The intricate topography includes visualizations that are 15 times higher in resolution than ever before. Among the discoveries are volcanoes, valleys, and giant underwater ridges, all of which were yet to be discovered before by researchers.
The new data that has been uncovered can potentially help scientists with modelling sea life habitats, forecasting climate change, and further understanding the impact that tsunamis have. This information serves as a glimmer of light in the otherwise dark and unsuccessful search for the flight that mysteriously vanished.
The majority of the research was done along a geological “breakup zone” which was formed by the separation of tectonic plates, said to be up to 40 million years old. In addition to the enticing ocean data that was uncovered by the search, so too were the remains and debris of two shipwrecks.
In the upcoming year, a new set of data is scheduled for release. The Australian government has granted access to the entire collection of data, available for public review and analysis on the geoscience domain of the official government website.
It is the hope of the researchers that studies and investigations of this new data will lead to a further understanding of the vast waters that encompass our planet. Although it’s been three years of a failed search for the missing Flight MH370, and there are families who are still at home praying for the return of their loved ones, this newly uncovered data serves not as a failure, but as a potential success for the future of humankind.
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