An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: An enormous coral reef has been found at the northern tip of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the first such discovery in 120 years, scientists say. At 500m (1,640ft) high, the reef is taller than New York’s Empire State Building and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Scientists on a 12-month mission found the structure, detached from the Great Barrier Reef off Cape York, last week. They were conducting 3D mapping of the sea floor in the area. A team aboard a research vessel owned by the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI), a non-profit group based in California, used an underwater robot to explore the reef. The reef is the first of its kind to be found in the region since the late 1800s, scientists said. There are known to be seven other tall reefs in the region, including the one at Raine Island — the world’s most important green sea turtle nesting area. While the reef is bedded to the ocean floor off North Queensland, it is detached, meaning it is not part of the main body of the Great Barrier Reef. Described as “blade-like,” the reef is 1.5km wide (one mile), then rises 500m to its shallowest depth of only 40m below the sea surface. Researchers are expected to continue surveying the northern Great Barrier Reef until 17 November.

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