The ill-fated MH360 plane appears to be lost in one of the most remote places on earth, in an underwater mountain range of similar size to the Rockies, according to a British oceanographer.
Dr David Ferreira, an oceanographer at the University of Reading, said: "We know much more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean floor in that part of the Indian Ocean.
“The ocean in the region where MH370 is thought to have crashed is is hundreds of miles from land, and bad weather and towering seas are common.
A plane returns from a search for flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean
“In that part of the ocean, very little is known about the detailed topography of the sea bed. Our maps of this area have pixels of about 0.5 by 0.5 miles."
Earlier on Tuesday, Malaysia's acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur that the search has been called off in the northern part of the Southern Corridor and is now focused on 469,407 square nautical miles, compared with a previous massive area of 2.24million square nautical miles.
“It looks as if the search is focusing on an area where the sea bed is relatively flat, if 4,000-5,000m deep," Ferreira said.
"To the south is a region where there is an undersea mountain range approximately the size and area of the Rocky Mountains in North America, and to the north is an ocean trench where the bottom extends a further 1000m deeper.
“Given the strength, speed and chaotic nature of the ocean currents, debris from a crashed plane which has not immediately sunk to the ocean floor could be strewn over a very wide area.
"Searching for crucial parts, such as the aircraft’s black box recorders, is likely to be extremely difficult. You might say that searching for a needle in a haystack is simple by comparison.
"This haystack is in the dark, two or three miles underwater, hundreds of miles from land, and in a field no-one has even seen before, let alone mapped.”