Irish research has helped discover a volcanic landscape along the Mid- Atlantic Ridge, a vast underwater mountain range that extends almost the entire length of the ocean. The new discoveries are featured on National Geographic’s program ‘The Alien Deep.’

The Irish Examiner reports on the exciting new discovery, which was dubbed Moytirra, after the battle between the Fir Bolg and the Tuatha Dé Danann in Irish mythology. The name translates to mean “Plain of the Pillars,” an accurate description of the region.

The new discoveries, which include volcanic smoking vents and “chimneys,” are featured in the National Geographic program, ‘The Alien Deep.’ Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic, presents the program.

Using the Irish research vessel Celtic Explorer, scientists made significant discoveries about the unique marine life at those sea depths, as well as a greater understanding of the crushing pressures at that level below surface.

"Discovering a new volcanic landscape 3km below was a thrill," said expedition leader Dr. Andy Wheeler, a geologist at University College Cork whose team used a ROV [remotely operated underwater vehicle], to explore the ocean depths. 

Dr. Wheeler said: "[The ROV] descended down the side of this cliff until we could see plumes of smoke coming up from below and we found the chimneys reaching up." 

"We really were pushing the machines we had to the edge," added marine biologist Patrick Collins of NUI Galway. "And that’s a credit to the ROV pilots — they pulled it off." The ROVs could only examine the tops of some of the chimneys as they were limited by their 3000 meter tether.

Dr. Wheeler also spoke to the unique life forms found at that level below the ocean’s surface: “One shrimp we found, that’s been seen at other sites, has lost its eyes but developed a new type of ‘eye’ on the top of its thorax that senses near-infrared light.”

Here’s the video about the research from University College Cork: 

Scenes from the depths of the seaThe Irish Examiner