The ocean remains one of the most wondrous places on our planet and there is always something to explore. Recently, some researchers were able to document the deepest known eruption on Earth. It took place in the western Pacific Ocean, almost three miles below the surface.
The ocean is well known for its volcanic activity, but it is not often that researchers have a time to analyze it. It appears that this eruption happened between 2013 and 2015, and it was created by subduction.
“We know that most of the world’s volcanic activity actually takes place in the ocean, but most of it goes undetected and unseen. That is because undersea quakes associated with volcanism are usually small, and most of the instrumentation is far away on land. Many of these areas are deep and don’t leave any clues on the surface. That makes submarine eruptions very elusive, explained Bill Chadwick, marine geologist at Oregon State University and lead author on the study.
It was discovered years later
Researchers discovered the eruption back in December 2015, when they spotted some dark lava on the sea floor. The noticed this in some pictures taken by the cameras of an autonomous underwater vehicle.
The following year, in 2016 scientists managed to explore the area using two vehicles that were remotely operated. They also analyzed the data and noticed that, according to surveys, there were depth changes in 2013 and 2015, matching the signs of an eruption.
“Typically after an eruption, there is heat released and venting for a few years and organisms will colonize the vents, creating a new ecosystem. But after a while, the system cools down and the mobile organisms will leave. There was still some venting, but it had obviously greatly declined,” said Chadwick.