Researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) discovered many undersea rivers flowing along the country's continental shelf.
Rivers under the sea often form during the winter, when the heat loss makes shallow coastal areas more shallow, creating dense currents of water below the surface of the sea. These streams of water then follow the continental shelf and flow offshore.
Using unmanned diving equipment, experts from the University of Western Australia recently discovered underground rivers operating on a scale never before seen along the coast. The phenomenon has a great impact on ocean ecosystems when it helps to transport suspended and dissolved substances from the coast to deep water.
The shallow coastal sea is a basin that receives nutrients, pollutants and biomes. They represent an important part of the ocean environment, helping connect the mainland to the deep sea, the team said.
The operation of underground flows helps transport many important substances to the deep sea. (Photo: Fox News).
Underground rivers are observed by scuba gear during all expeditions on the northern coast of Australia. Some extend to 50km and reach a depth of more than 150m. The thickness of the flows ranges from 20 to 30m.
"This is the most important discovery for coastal oceanography in recent decades, not only in Australia but globally , " said Professor Chari Pattiaratchi from UWA.
The research details were published in Scientific Reports, June 16.