Deep down in Australia, geologists have discovered a law world. Unfortunately, it contains no living dinosaurs (and probably few dead either), but it has more volcanoes than a Hollywood director's dream, even though they have been eradicated for over 100 million years.
The Cooper -Eromanga Basin lies behind what are now some of the driest parts of Australia. It is Australia's largest onshore oil and gas producing region, and although its fossil fuels are rather weak by international standards, it still means that its geology has become more explored than many other parts of the continent. Despite this, no one noticed at least 100 remarkably well-preserved extinct volcanoes in the basin.
The volcanoes were active 1
Dr Simon Holford from the University of Adelaide told IFLScience that, apart from no one foreseeing them, the volcanoes were missed by 60 years of oil exploration partly because exploration methods have not been well suited to finding volcanic provinces. Holford's team has developed world-leading techniques to detect the signal from ancient volcanoes in seismic reflection surveys and ended up finding a landscape near the home.
In the journal Gondwana Research, Holford and colleagues name the province of Warnie, partly for a local watering hole that gave its name to a exploration well that is important for their discoveries, but also for legendary Australian cricketer Shane Warne. Holford told IFLScience that, as an English-born obsessive cricket fan, he can't get himself to support his country of adoption despite his 12-year hiatus, but thought of the large volcanic fields reminiscent of Warne's explosive talent and fiery temper.
Although the province was surrounded by mighty rivers during its heyday, if these obliterated some volcanoes from the geological record, there was much left. The rest was buried under a heavy load of protective sediment as this part of the continent sank.
Holford told IFLScience that the work has some commercial applications. "Drilling through volcanic rock is harder and more expensive than sediment," he said. "The drill bits are getting worn out." By identifying the location of these rocks, the results will make it easier for those seeking underground resources, whether natural gas, water or hot rocks for geothermal energy, to find the path with least resistance.  Unfortunately, however, Holford doubts that there will be much paleontological advantage. Drilling rigs make holes so small that the risk of encountering a fossil is small at best, and Holford noted Australia's chalk stones have been a much richer source of dinosaur bones than those in law.