All right, Lord of the Rings nerds, I mean, fanatics, this one’s for you.
A new underwater volcano was recently discovered nestled 10,170 feet beneath the surface of the Indian ocean, about 174 miles southeast of Christmas Island. It’s 3.9 miles long and 3 miles wide, too.
It’s known as a caldera because it’s a collapsed underwater volcano — surrounded by a 984-foot tall rim. Sure, researchers see these types of calderas all the time, but this one is memorable because it looks a lot like the Eye of Sauron from J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous fantasy series the Lord of the Rings movies.
It was spotted by a team of nerds, I mean, researchers during an expedition to Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories. The volcano was mapped in three dimensions using multibeam sonar.
“The molten magma at the base of the volcano shifts upwards, leaving empty chambers [below],” said Tim O’Hara, senior curator at Museums Victoria in Australia. “The thin, solid crust on the surface of the dome then collapses, creating a large, crater-like structure.”
“Our volcanic ‘eye’ was not alone. Further mapping to the south revealed a smaller sea mountain covered in numerous volcanic cones, and further still to the south was a larger, flat-topped seamount,” said O’Hara.
The researchers continued their connecting of the dots with Tolkien’s writings and named the cone-covered mountain Barad-dûr, after Sauron’s main stronghold.
You can read more about the underwater findings at livescience.com.