Submarine volcano

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Scheme of a submarine eruption.
1. Water vapor cloud
2. Water
3. Stratum
4. Lava flow
5. Magma conduit
6. Magma chamber
7. Dike
8. Pillow lava Submarine Eruption-numbers.svg
Scheme of a submarine eruption.
1. Water vapor cloud
2. Water
3. Stratum
4. Lava flow
5. Magma conduit
6. Magma chamber
7. Dike
8. Pillow lava
Pillow lava formed by a submarine volcano Nur05018-Pillow lavas off Hawaii.jpg
Pillow lava formed by a submarine volcano
NOAA exploration video showing remnants of underwater tar volcanoes.

Submarine volcanoes are underwater vents or fissures in the Earth's surface from which magma can erupt. Many submarine volcanoes are located near areas of tectonic plate formation, known as mid-ocean ridges. The volcanoes at mid-ocean ridges alone are estimated to account for 75% of the magma output on Earth. [1] Volcanic activity during the Holocene Epoch has been documented at only 119 submarine volcanoes but there may be more than one million geologically young submarine volcanoes on the ocean floor. [2] [3] Although most submarine volcanoes are located in the depths of seas and oceans, some also exist in shallow water, and these can discharge material into the atmosphere during an eruption. The Kolumbo submarine volcano in the Aegean Sea was discovered in 1650 when it erupted, killing 70 people on the nearby island of Santorini. The total number of submarine volcanoes is estimated to be over 1 million (most are now extinct), of which some 75,000 rise more than 1 km above the seabed. [1]

Contents

Hydrothermal vents, sites of abundant biological activity, are commonly found near submarine volcanoes.

Effect of water on volcanoes

The presence of water can greatly alter the characteristics of a volcanic eruption and the explosions of underwater volcanoes in comparison to those on land.

For instance, water causes magma to cool and solidify much more quickly than in a terrestrial eruption, often turning it into volcanic glass. The shapes and textures of lava formed by submarine volcanoes are different from lava erupted on land. Upon contact with water, a solid crust forms around the lava. Advancing lava flows into this crust, forming what is known as pillow lava.

Below ocean depths of about 2200 m, where the pressure exceeds the critical pressure of water (22.06 MPa or about 218 atmospheres for pure water), it can no longer boil; it becomes a supercritical fluid. Without boiling sounds, deep-sea volcanoes can be difficult to detect at great distances using hydrophones.[ citation needed ]

The critical temperature and pressure increase in solutions of salts, which are normally present in the seawater. The composition of aqueous solution in the vicinity of hot basalt, and circulating within the conduits of hot rocks, is expected to differ from that of bulk water (i.e., of sea water away from the hot surfaces). One estimation is that the critical point is 407 °C and 29.9 MPa, while the solution composition corresponds to that of approximately 3.2% of NaCl. [4]

Research

Scientists still have much to learn about the location and activity of underwater volcanoes. In the first two decades of this century, NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration has funded exploration of submarine volcanoes, with the Ring of Fire missions to the Mariana Arc in the Pacific Ocean being particularly noteworthy. Using Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV), scientists studied underwater eruptions, ponds of molten sulfur, black smoker chimneys and even marine life adapted to this deep, hot environment.

Research from the ROV KAIKO off the coast of Hawaii has suggested that pahoehoe lava flows occur underwater, and the degree of the submarine terrain slope and rate of lava supply determine the shape of the resulting lobes. [5]

Seamounts

Many submarine volcanoes are seamounts, typically extinct volcanoes that rise abruptly from a seafloor of 1,000 - 4,000 meters depth. They are defined by oceanographers as independent features that rise to at least 1,000 meters above the seafloor. The peaks are often found hundreds to thousands of meters below the surface, and are therefore considered to be within the deep sea. [6] An estimated 30,000 seamounts occur across the globe, with only a few having been studied. However, some seamounts are also unusual. For example, while the summits of seamounts are normally hundreds of meters below sea level, the Bowie Seamount in Canada's Pacific waters rises from a depth of about 3,000 meters to within 24 meters of the sea surface.

Identifying types of eruptions by sounds

Deepest ever filmed submarine volcano, West Mata, May 2009. Bands of glowing magma from submarine volcano.jpg
Deepest ever filmed submarine volcano, West Mata, May 2009.

There are two types of submarine eruptions: One is created by the slow release and bursting of large lava bubbles, and the other one is created by a quick explosion of gas bubbles. Lava can affect marine animals and ecosystems differently than gas can, so it is important to be able to distinguish the two.

Scientists have been able to connect sounds to sights in both types of eruptions. In 2009, a video camera and a hydrophone were floating 1,200 meters below sea level in the Pacific Ocean near Samoa, watching and listening as the West Mata Volcano erupted in several ways. Putting video and audio together let researchers learn the sounds made by slow lava bursting and the different noises made by hundreds of gas bubbles. [8] [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

Volcano Rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface

A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.

Seamount A mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach to the waters surface

A seamount is a large geologic landform that rises from the ocean floor but that does not reach to the water's surface, and thus is not an island, islet or cliff-rock. Seamounts are typically formed from extinct volcanoes that rise abruptly and are usually found rising from the seafloor to 1,000–4,000 m (3,300–13,100 ft) in height. They are defined by oceanographers as independent features that rise to at least 1,000 m (3,281 ft) above the seafloor, characteristically of conical form. The peaks are often found hundreds to thousands of meters below the surface, and are therefore considered to be within the deep sea. During their evolution over geologic time, the largest seamounts may reach the sea surface where wave action erodes the summit to form a flat surface. After they have subsided and sunk below the sea surface such flat-top seamounts are called "guyots" or "tablemounts".

Extrusive rock

Extrusive rock refers to the mode of igneous volcanic rock formation in which hot magma from inside the Earth flows out (extrudes) onto the surface as lava or explodes violently into the atmosphere to fall back as pyroclastics or tuff. In contrast, intrusive rock refers to rocks formed by magma which cools below the surface.

Kīlauea Active volcano in Hawaii

Kīlauea is an active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands. Historically, Kīlauea is the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Located along the southeastern shore of the island, the volcano is between 210,000 and 280,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. The volcano's most recent eruption began on December 20, 2020.

Evolution of Hawaiian volcanoes Processes of growth and erosion of the volcanoes of the Hawaiian islands

The fifteen volcanoes that make up the eight principal islands of Hawaii are the youngest in a chain of more than 129 volcanoes that stretch 5,800 kilometres (3,600 mi) across the North Pacific Ocean, called the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain. Hawaiʻi's volcanoes rise an average of 4,600 metres (15,000 ft) to reach sea level from their base. The largest, Mauna Loa, is 4,169 metres (13,678 ft) high. As shield volcanoes, they are built by accumulated lava flows, growing a few meters or feet at a time to form a broad and gently sloping shape.

<i>Kaikō ROV</i> Japanese remotely operated underwater vehicle for deep sea exploration

Kaikō was a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) built by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) for exploration of the deep sea. Kaikō was the second of only five vessels ever to reach the bottom of the Challenger Deep, as of 2019. Between 1995 and 2003, this 10.6 ton unmanned submersible conducted more than 250 dives, collecting 350 biological species, some of which could prove to be useful in medical and industrial applications. On 29 May 2003, Kaikō was lost at sea off the coast of Shikoku Island during Typhoon Chan-Hom, when a secondary cable connecting it to its launcher at the ocean surface broke.

Juan de Fuca Ridge A divergent plate boundary off the coast of the Pacific Northwest region of North America.

The Juan de Fuca Ridge is a mid-ocean spreading center and divergent plate boundary located off the coast of the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The ridge separates the Pacific Plate to the west and the Juan de Fuca Plate to the east. It runs generally northward, with a length of approximately 500 kilometers. The ridge is a section of what remains from the larger Pacific-Farallon Ridge which used to be the primary spreading center of this region, driving the Farallon Plate underneath the North American Plate through the process of plate tectonics. Today, the Juan de Fuca Ridge pushes the Juan de Fuca Plate underneath the North American plate, forming the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Types of volcanic eruptions mechanisms of eruption

Several types of volcanic eruptions—during which lava, tephra, and assorted gases are expelled from a volcanic vent or fissure—have been distinguished by volcanologists. These are often named after famous volcanoes where that type of behavior has been observed. Some volcanoes may exhibit only one characteristic type of eruption during a period of activity, while others may display an entire sequence of types all in one eruptive series.

Axial Seamount A submarine volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge west of Oregon

Axial Seamount is a seamount and submarine volcano located on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, approximately 480 km (298 mi) west of Cannon Beach, Oregon. Standing 1,100 m (3,609 ft) high, Axial Seamount is the youngest volcano and current eruptive center of the Cobb–Eickelberg Seamount chain. Located at the center of both a geological hotspot and a mid-ocean ridge, the seamount is geologically complex, and its origins are still poorly understood. Axial Seamount is set on a long, low-lying plateau, with two large rift zones trending 50 km (31 mi) to the northeast and southwest of its center. The volcano features an unusual rectangular caldera, and its flanks are pockmarked by fissures, vents, sheet flows, and pit craters up to 100 m (328 ft) deep; its geology is further complicated by its intersection with several smaller seamounts surrounding it.

Bowie Seamount Submarine volcano in the northeastern Pacific Ocean

Bowie Seamount is a large submarine volcano in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, located 180 km (110 mi) west of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada.

Cobb–Eickelberg Seamount chain A range of undersea mountains formed by volcanic activity of the Cobb hotspot in the Pacific Ocean

The Cobb-Eickelberg seamount chain is a range of undersea mountains formed by volcanic activity of the Cobb hotspot located in the Pacific Ocean. The seamount chain extends to the southeast on the Pacific Plate, beginning at the Aleutian Trench and terminating at Axial Seamount, located on the Juan de Fuca Ridge.The seamount chain is spread over a vast length of approximately 1800 km. The location of the Cobb hotspot that gives rise to these seamounts is 46° N -130° W. The Pacific plate is moving to the northwest over the hotspot, causing the seamounts in the chain to decrease in age to the southeast. Axial is the youngest seamount and is located approximately 480 km west of Cannon Beach, Oregon. The most studied seamounts that make up this chain are Axial, Brown Bear, Cobb, and Patton seamounts. There are many other seamounts in this chain which have not been explored.

Hawaii hotspot A volcanic hotspot located near the Hawaiian Islands, in the northern Pacific Ocean

The Hawai’i hotspot is a volcanic hotspot located near the namesake Hawaiian Islands, in the northern Pacific Ocean. One of the best known and intensively studied hotspots in the world, the Hawaii plume is responsible for the creation of the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain, a 6,200-kilometer (3,900 mi) mostly undersea volcanic mountain range. Four of these volcanoes are active, two are dormant; more than 123 are extinct, most now preserved as atolls or seamounts. The chain extends from south of the island of Hawaiʻi to the edge of the Aleutian Trench, near the eastern coast of Russia.

Davidson Seamount Underwater volcano off the coast of Central California, southwest of Monterey

Davidson Seamount is a seamount located off the coast of Central California, 80 mi (129 km) southwest of Monterey and 75 mi (121 km) west of San Simeon. At 26 mi (42 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) wide, it is one of the largest known seamounts in the world. From base to crest, the seamount is 7,480 ft (2,280 m) tall, yet its summit is still 4,101 ft (1,250 m) below the sea surface. The seamount is biologically diverse, with 237 species and 27 types of deep-sea coral having been identified.

Submarine eruption Underwater volcanic eruption

Submarine eruptions are those volcano eruptions which take place beneath the surface of water. These occur at constructive margins, subduction zones and within tectonic plates due to hotspots. This eruption style is far more prevalent than subaerial activity. For example, it is believed that 70 to 80% of the Earth's magma output takes place at mid-ocean ridges.

West Mata

West Mata is a submarine volcano at 1,100 meters depth 200 kilometres (120 mi) southwest of the Samoas. Its eruptions are currently the deepest observed.

ABISMO is a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) built by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) for exploration of the deep sea. It is the only remaining ROV rated to 11,000-meters, ABISMO is intended to be the permanent replacement for Kaikō, a ROV that was lost at sea in 2003.

Macdonald seamount A seamount in Polynesia, southeast of the Austral Islands

Macdonald seamount is a seamount in Polynesia, southeast of the Austral Islands and in the neighbourhood of a system of seamounts that include the Ngatemato seamounts and the Taukina seamounts. It rises 4,200 metres (13,800 ft) from the seafloor to a depth of about 40 metres (130 ft) and has a flat top, but the height of its top appears to vary with volcanic activity. There are some subsidiary cones such as Macdocald seamount. The seamount was discovered in 1967 and has been periodically active with gas release and seismic activity since then. There is hydrothermal activity on Macdonald, and the vents are populated by hyperthermophilic bacteria.

Lava balloon Floating bubble of lava

A lava balloon is a gas-filled bubble of lava that floats on the sea surface. It can be up to several metres in size. When it emerges from the sea, it is usually hot and often steaming. After floating for some time it fills with water and sinks again.

South Arch volcanic field Underwater volcanic field south of Hawaiʻi Island

South Arch volcanic field is an underwater volcanic field south of Hawaiʻi Island. It was active during the last 10,000 years, and covers an area of 35 by 50 kilometres at a depth of 4,950 metres (16,240 ft).

NW Rota-1

NW Rota-1 is a seamount in the Mariana Islands, northwest of Rota, which was discovered through its hydrothermal activity in 2003. The volcano has been observed to be erupting underwater, the first time that submarine explosive eruptions have been directly witnessed.

References

  1. 1 2 Martin R. Speight, Peter A. Henderson, "Marine Ecology: Concepts and Applications", John Wiley & Sons, 2013. ISBN   978-1-4051-2699-1.
  2. Venzke, E., ed. (2013). "Holocene Volcano List". Global Volcanism Program Volcanoes of the World (version 4.9.1). Smithsonian Institution . Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  3. Venzke, E., ed. (2013). "How many active volcanoes are there?". Global Volcanism Program Volcanoes of the World (version 4.9.1). Smithsonian Institution . Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  4. Michael E. Q. Pilson, "An Introduction to the Chemistry of the Sea", 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  5. Umino, Susumu; Lipman, Peter W.; Obata, Sumie (2000-06-01). "Subaqueous lava flow lobes, observed on ROV KAIKO dives off Hawaii". Geology. 28 (6): 503–506. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2000)028<0503:slfloo>2.3.co;2. ISSN   0091-7613.
  6. Nybakken, James W. and Bertness, Mark D., 2005. Marine Biology: An Ecological Approach. Sixth Edition. Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco
  7. "Scientists Discover and Image Explosive Deep-Ocean Volcano". NOAA. 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  8. Scientificamerican.com 2015-04-22 Undersea Volcano Explodes as Scientists Watch
  9. Dziak, R. P.; Bohnenstiehl, D. R.; Baker, E. T; Matsumoto, H.; Caplan-Auerbach, J.; Embley, R. W.; Merle, S. G.; Walker, S. L.; Lau, T.-K.; Chadwick, W. W. (2015). "Long-term explosive degassing and debris flow activity at West Mata submarine volcano" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 42 (5): 1480–1487. Bibcode:2015GeoRL..42.1480D. doi:10.1002/2014GL062603.