Scientists have discovered the world’s longest chain of continental volcanoes, stretching 2,000km along eastern Australia.

The volcanic chain, which started its formation 33m years ago, runs from near the Whitsundays in Queensland to near Melbourne. It is nearly three times the length of the Yellowstone volcanic track in the US.

The volcanoes weren’t formed at the edge of tectonic plates, where most volcanoes occur. Instead, they came about from mantle plumes, which are upwellings of hot rock from around 3,000km below the Earth’s surface.

At around 130km underground, these plumes melt, breaching the outer layer of the Earth’s crust, called the lithosphere and creating visible volcanoes.

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