Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Researchers Discover Underwater Volcano

This new volcano, dubbed Nafanua after the ferocious Samoan goddess of war, did not exist just fours years ago, according to co-chief scientists Hubert Staudigel and Stan Hart. With a growth rate of at least eight inches per day, the volcanic cone has rapidly emerged since the scientists' last expedition to this area in May 2001. Nafanua now stands at 300 meters, or nearly 1,000 feet.
San Diego CA (SPX) May 26, 2005
A team of scientists, led by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, has discovered an active underwater volcano near the Samoan Island chain.

During a research cruise to study the Samoan hot spot, scientists uncovered a submarine volcano growing in the summit crater of another larger underwater volcano, Vailulu'u.

Researchers explored the unique biological community surrounding the eruption site, and were amazed to find an "Eel City," a community of hundreds of slithering eels.

This new volcano, dubbed Nafanua after the ferocious Samoan goddess of war, did not exist just fours years ago, according to co-chief scientists Hubert Staudigel, a geologist at Scripps's Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, and Stan Hart, a geochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

With a growth rate of at least eight inches per day, the volcanic cone has rapidly emerged since the scientists' last expedition to this area in May 2001. Nafanua now stands at 300 meters, or nearly 1,000 feet.

"To actually have a documented case of an underwater volcano that has emerged within an accurate period of time is very rare-this is one of those cases," said Staudigel.

Scientists were tipped off to the volcano's existence when they profiled the seafloor of the Vailulu'u crater using multibeam mapping.

Existing maps of the seafloor in the area gave little indication that this volcano existed. When sound beams were directed into the crater this time, they measured an unusually shallow depth.

These interesting results prompted further investigation of the area using the manned submersible Pisces V-a seven-foot sphere that has the capability to dive to depths of more than 6,000 feet, operated by NOAA's Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory.

The water surrounding the volcanic cone is extremely turbid due to hydrothermal activity and the vigorous vents that produce this volcanic "fog" are obscured, according to Staudigel.

Although visibility from the submersible was less than 10 feet, the researchers were able to observe the unique biological community surrounding the newly formed volcanic cone.

Much of Nafanua is covered with yellow "fluff," microbial aggregations that are produced by microscopic life feeding on chemical energy from the volcano's hydrothermal system.

As Staudigel and his international team explored the area, they discovered a number of large communities of eels inhabiting the fragile cavernous rock pillars surrounding the hydrothermal vent area.

As the submarine landed near this area, scores of eels, each approximately one foot in length, emerged from the rock caves and crevices. The scientists named this novel marine hydrothermal community "Eel City."

"At this point we do not know why we found such extensive eel communities surrounding this volcano-it's a mystery that we hope to learn more about on future cruises," said Staudigel.

Within decades, continued growth of Nafanua could bring the summit of this volcano from its current depth of 600 meters to a depth of approximately 200 meters-close enough to the sea surface that it could provide a potential hazard to ocean navigation and coastal communities.

Such hazards may include the explosive reaction between red-hot lava and seawater, or tsunamis that may be caused by the collapse of the newly built volcano.

"It is a good idea for us to keep our eyes on this area, but there is no real reason for concern about immediate danger," said Staudigel.

Three students from High Tech High in San Diego were aboard one of the two expeditions to Nafanua and assisted researchers in collecting and analyzing data.

These students also created and maintained an in-depth web site related to the cruise where they posted reports, maps, photos and videos from submersible dives.

Also, the students and scientists aboard the ship participated in the first ever student-to-student videoconference between a high school and a research vessel with the help of HiSeasNet, a satellite communications system that provides continuous Internet connectivity for oceanographic research vessels at sea.

The discovery of Nafanua included investigators from oceanographic institutions in the U.S. and Australia, in addition to graduate, undergraduate and high school students.

Investigators included Staudigel, Anthony Koppers, Alexis Templeton, and Brad Tebo from Scripps Oceanography; Hart from Woods Hole; Craig Young and Sandra Brooke of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Oregon; Adele Pile of the University of Sydney; Ian Hudson from British National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; Ray Lee from Washington State University; and Ed Baker of NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. This research was performed aboard two research vessels from the University of Hawaii, Ka'imikai O Kanaloa and Kilo Moana, and the NOAA submersible Pisces V.

Related Links
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
TerraDaily
Search TerraDaily
Subscribe To TerraDaily Express

Quake-Wary Californians Get Computerised Virtual Taste Of The "Big One"
Los Angeles (AFP) May 26, 2005
As Californians brace nervously for the "big one," scientists Wednesday offered a computer-generated glimpse at the death and destruction a major earthquake could wreak in the second largest US city.



Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only






Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.