Already a wildlife wonderland, major tourist attraction and World Heritage Site, we can now add lifesaver to the Great Barrier Reef’s resume.
The reef provides an effective barrier against landslide-induced tsunamis, according to new research from the University of Sydney.
Associate Professor Jody Webster from the Geocoastal Research Group says landslides could be occurring under the reef without us even knowing.
"There is a relatively low chance that a similar submarine landslide with the potential to cause a tsunami of up to three metres or more would happen today," Associate Professor Webster said.
"However, if one did occur, our findings suggest that the Great Barrier Reef is doing us a great service because of its ability to absorb some of that potential wave energy."
The study, published in Marine Geology, discovered that between 14,000 and 20,000 years ago a shallow water landslide caused a 2 to 3 metre tsunami between Airlie Beach and Townsville.
Back then, the Great Barrier Reef was only a fringing reef and didn’t off the same protection it does today.
Learn more about the potential for deadly tsunamis below.