'Jurassic world' of volcanoes found underneath Australia

A "Jurassic world" of volcanoes has been discovered right beneath one of Australia's biggest fossil fuel regions.

The scientists who found it have named it the Warnie Volcanic Province, after the "fiery" Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne.

"While the majority of Earth's volcanic activity occurs at the boundaries of tectonic plates, or under the Earth's oceans, this ancient Jurassic world developed deep within the interior of the Australian continent," said Simon Holford of the University of Adelaide, who co-authored a new study into the region.

"Its discovery raises the prospect that more undiscovered volcanic worlds reside beneath the poorly explored surface of Australia."

Despite decades of underground exploration in the Cooper-Eromanga Basin region, the 160 million-year-old volcanic field has gone largely unnoticed.

The scientists used technology similar to medical CT scanning to peer hundreds of metres down into the Earth's crust. They found a "plethora of volcanic craters and lava flows, and the deeper magma chambers that fed them". All up, there were about 100 individual volcanoes.

"The Cooper-Eromanga Basins have been substantially explored since the first gas discovery in 1963," said co-author Nick Schofield from the University of Aberdeen.

"This has led to a massive amount of available data from underneath the ground but, despite this, the volcanics have never been properly understood in this region until now. It changes how we understand processes that have operated in Earth's past."

The field dates back to the Jurassic period, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

The scientists say they wrote the paper, published in journal Gondwana Research, whilst watching a match between the England cricket side and an Australian XI at Adelaide Oval in 2017.

"Inspired by the cricket, we thought Warnie a good name for this once fiery region."

Shane Warne.
Shane Warne. Photo credit: Getty

Warne didn't play in that match, which England won by 192 runs

A buried volcano was discovered beneath Panmure Basin in Auckland in 2010.