An undersea volcano that was first observed erupting in 2004 has been continuously spewing lava, the U.S. National Science Foundation announced late last week.
According to scientists, a recent trip to the volcano resulted in discovering that not only has it been continuously active, but also has grown in size and is supporting a unique ecosystem.
The volcano, which is found near the Island of Guam, has expanded 40 metres in height and 300 metres in length since 2006. “As the cone has grown, we’ve seen a significant increase in the population of animals that lives atop the volcano,” said Bill Chadwick, an Oregon State University (OSU) volcanologist and chief investigator on the expedition. “We’re trying to determine if there is a direct connection between the increase in the volcanic activity and that population increase.” This population includes shrimp, crab, barnacles. as well as some new species, fostered by the volcano.
“This research allows us, for the first time, to study undersea volcanoes in detail and close up,” said Barbara Ransom, program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research. Shallow volcanoes can be hazardous, but with this, they can observe the eruptions from safe distances, and learn valuable information that they never have had the opportunity to do before.
The team included scientists from Oregon State University, the University of Washington, University of Victoria, University of Oregon, NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, New Zealand and Japan.
Read the full press release at the National Science Foundation’s website.
Image courtesy of U.S. National Science Foundation