Underwater Volcano Chain Discovered Off Coast Of Tasmania

Scientists have discovered an underwater chain of volcanoes off the coast of Tasmania. A team from the Australian National University mapped the submerged terrain during a voyage aboard the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research ship “Investigator.”

The underwater peaks, or seamounts, reach more than 9,000 feet high, but vary in shape and size. Researchers hope having detailed maps of the underwater area will help protect the environment, while aiding in future research.

“This is a very diverse landscape and will undoubtedly be a biological hotspot that supports a dazzling array of marine life,” Dr. Tara Martin from the CSIRO mapping team said in a statement.

So far, data from the research ship has already revealed increased marine life activity along the volcano chain.

“While we were over the chain of seamounts, the ship was visited by large numbers of humpback and long-finned pilot whales,” said Dr. Eric Woehler, who was aboard the Investigator. “Clearly these seamounts are a biological hotspot that supports life, both directly on them, as well as in the ocean above.”

According to Dr. Woehler, the whales may be using the seafloor to help navigate their way through the ocean during migration from winter breeding to summer feeding grounds.

The next step for researchers is to head back to the area, located about 250 miles east of Tasmania, off Australia’s southern coast. The Investigator has a voyage this month, and then another one in December. During the trips, researchers will be gathering high-resolution video of marine life, as well as collecting rock samples to study how this formed.

Geological Survey Discovers Active Volcano 14,000 Feet Under The Sea

There are at least 20 to 40 volcanoes erupting on Earth at any given moment, but most of that volcanic activity is hidden from view at the bottom of the ocean. It is estimated that almost 5 cubic-miles of lava erupt every year along the mid-ocean ridges and submarine fault systems associated with subduction zones, where the oceanic crust is pulled into Earth’s mantle. This is twice the lava that erupts from all volcanoes found on land.

In 1973, the submarine Alvin by chance discovered “black smokers” on the seafloor near Hawaii. These underwater hot springs, named after the smoke-like 750 °F hot fluids that billow out from their vents, were the first evidence that there is geothermal activity to be found on the bottom of the ocean. In the last 500 years, only 17 deep submarine eruptions have been known, and even then mostly identified only by indirect evidence, like changes in the bathymetry of the seabed, plumes of volcanic ash and fluids dispersed in the water and by occasional pumice rafts appearing on the ocean surface.

Deep sea volcanoes are still poorly studied and most of what we know about submarine eruptions is based on studying outcrops, where the seabed was pushed by tectonic forces above the sea. When an eruption occurs under the water, water pressure prevents the explosions as seen on land. We do know that when lava erupts beneath the sea, it develops distinctive pillow structures. Cold water instantly chills the extruded lava, forming a thin crust that stretches to resemble a tube or pillows as new hot lava enters under it. As the pillow expands, its surface cracks, allowing some lava to flow out from it and form another pillow. Geologists would like to compare what they see in an outcrop with what actually happens during an eruption under water. Observing a submarine eruption is not easy. Rarely we know in time when an underwater volcano will erupt and expensive survey technology, like manned submarines or unmanned rovers, is needed to observe the eruption.

An international research team was quite lucky, as it apparently discovered traces of a very recent eruption of a still active submarine volcano. It is also the deepest volcanic eruption ever recorded. During a survey mission near the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, typical pillow structures were discovered at a depth of 14,000 feet. The submarine lava flow, as mapped following the pillow lava, is 650 to 2,600 ft wide, almost 450 ft thick and 4.5 miles long. Milky fluids rising from the ground indicated that the lava was still warm and therefore very young. A comparison with older surveys of the seafloor suggests that the eruption occurred sometime between 2013 and 2016.

Deep-sea volcanic eruptions differ in some important characteristics from volcanic eruptions in shallow waters. In 14,000 feet the water pressure is much higher as near the surface. Volcanic gases, important in pushing the lava out from the volcanic vents, can’t expand here as much as under normal conditions. The resulting eruption style is less violent. Also, rock fragmentation, caused by exploding bubbles in the lava, should be less effective, but the researchers found large quantities of broken rocks and ash. Apparently, the bottom water in 14,000 feet plays a major role in such a case. The cold (32-38°F) water coming into contact with hot lava flash-boils and expands enormously, and the force of the steam expansion deforms and fragments the lava. The researchers were also surprised how long the lava will stay warm despite the chilling temperatures. This observation may of interest for marine biologists, as such eruptions and their aftermath could provide a habitat for various lifeforms.

Guatemala Volcano Spews Ash Months After Deadly Eruption

Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire spewed ash and lava Saturday just months after an eruption killed at least 110 people.

The country’s seismology and volcanology institute said hot lava was spilling from the crater and flowing toward a ravine.

Constant rumblings from the volcano sounded like an engine, and columns of gray ash billowed 4,600 meters (15,091 feet) into the air.

Authorities urged nearby residents to evacuate and be alert for possible lahars – flows of mud, debris, water and pyroclastic material – that could be fed by afternoon rains.

The Volcano of Fire is one of the most active in Central America.

Dozens of people were buried alive or burned beyond recognition in June when the volcano expelled smoldering gas, ash and rock, catching residents off guard.

Volcano Erupts Just Northwest Of Where Quake-Tsunami Tragedy Hit In Indonesia

As rescuers rush against time to find remaining survivors still missing after the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami disaster, a volcano has erupted to the northwest of Palu.

Indonesia disaster management officials say Mount Soputank, located in North Sulawesi, erupted on Wednesday.

Photos show smoke pouring from Soputan with observers stating the highest ash column was about 4000m.

Volcanic ash rain is expected to fall in the area northwest of the mountain.

Disaster agency BNPD says it will not impact flights at this stage.

Sam Ratulangi International Airport, located southeast of the volcano, will operate as usual for now.

Face masks to help residents deal with the ash have been issued to the community.

“The community does not need to evacuate because they are still safe,” the latest alert reads.

“Within a 4km radius there is no settlement. So it’s still safe.”

The BNPD says the current alert for Mount Soputan is a level 3 “standby”, which means the community should not be active in all areas within a 4km radius of it speak.

Nearby communities have been advised to prepare for rain ash but remain calm.

ALMOST 1350 KILLED IN TSUNAMI-QUAKE AFTERMATH

Friday’s earthquake and tsunami disaster in central Sulawesi has killed nearly 1350 people according to disaster response officials, prompting Australia to send emergency healthcare support to the region.

More than 50 Australian medical professionals will be sent to Indonesia to help in the aftermath, as part of the $5m package.

“We will be working very closely with the Indonesian government to make sure that the support we are providing is highly targeted,” Defence Minister Marise Payne told reporters in Washington.

Australia’s foreign affairs department has been asked whether the eruption of Mt Soputan will affect aid being sent to Palu, they are yet to provide comment.

Australia has also offered emergency relief supplies including shelter, water and hygiene kits, as well as to deploy defence force personnel to assist the Indonesian Government with their response.

It’s understood the Indonesian authorities are still considering what resources they will need as the remoteness of the area and loss of communications infrastructure continues to makes it difficult to assess the full scale of the disaster at this stage.

Meanwhile, trucks carrying food for desperate survivors have rolled in with a police escort to guard against looters.

The United Nations and relief agencies have now sent in more reinforcements to help the decimated region.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said on Tuesday that “needs are vast” for the devastated country, with Indonesians urgently requiring shelter, clean water, food, fuel and emergency medical care.

In the days after the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and tsunami struck, supplies of food, water, fuel and medicine had yet to reach the hardest-hit areas outside Palu, the largest city that was heavily damaged. Many roads in the earthquake zone are blocked and communications lines are down.

“We feel like we are stepchildren here because all the help is going to Palu,” said Mohamad Taufik, 38, from the town of Donggala, where five of his relatives are still missing.

“There are many young children here who are hungry and sick, but there is no milk or medicine.”

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the death toll was expected to rise.

Hundreds of other people have been injured, and scores of uncounted bodies could still be buried in collapsed buildings in Sigi and Balaroa under quicksand-like mud caused by the quake.

More than 25 countries have offered assistance after Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo appealed for international help.

Little of that, however, has reached the disaster zone, and increasingly desperate residents grabbed food and fuel from damaged stores and begged for help.

“Australia has expertise, it has resources in particular areas,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Perth.

“We’re looking to see how we can best fit the need to ensure that we can do whatever we can to support our Indonesian friends and neighbours in this time of very genuine need.”

An aircraft carrying 12,000 litres of fuel had arrived. and trucks with food were on the way with police escorts to guard against looters. Many gas stations were inoperable either because of quake damage or from people stealing fuel, Mr Nugroho said.

‘PAY ATTENTION TO DONGGALA’

The frustration of waiting for days without help has angered some survivors. “Pay attention to Donggala, Mr Jokowi. Pay attention to Donggala,” yelled one resident in a video broadcast on local TV, referring to the president. “There are still a lot of unattended villages here.”

The town’s administrative head, Kasman Lassa, all but gave residents permission to take food — but nothing else — from stores.

“Everyone is hungry and they want to eat after several days of not eating,” Lassa said on local TV. “We have anticipated it by providing food, rice, but it was not enough. There are many people here. So, on this issue, we cannot pressure them to hold much longer.”

Nearly 62,000 people have been displaced from their homes, Mr Nugroho said.

Most of the attention has been focused so far on Palu, which has 380,000 people and is easier to reach than other hard-hit areas.

UN spokesman Mr Haq said that relief agencies are on the ground or en route. He said the agencies are working closely with the government to provide technical support.

He told reporters that water is the main issue because most of the water supply infrastructure has been damaged.

He said the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs has asked the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, to send social workers to the affected area to support children who are alone or became separated from their families.

Mr Haq said the World Health Organisation warned that a lack of shelter and damaged water sanitation facilities could lead to outbreaks of communicable diseases.

Volcano Spews Ash On Mexico City

Ash spewing from the Popocatepetl volcano has reached the southern neighborhoods of Mexico’s capital.

The National Center for Disaster Prevention warned Mexicans on Saturday to stay away from the volcano after activity picked up in the crater and it registered 183 emissions of gas and ash over 24 hours.

The center was monitoring multiple rumblings and tremors. Images on social media showed thin layers of ash coating car windshields in neighborhoods of Mexico City such as Xochimilco.

Geophysicists have noticed an increase in activity at the volcano that sits 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of the capital since a 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked central Mexico in September 2017. The volcano known as “Don Goyo” has been active since 1994.

Deadly ‘Child of Krakatau’ Volcano Erupts 56 Times in Indonesia

A volcano in Indonesia known as the “Child of Krakatoa” erupted over 50 times in a single day, according to meteorologists and geophysics experts.

Staff at MAGMA Indonesia (Multiplatform Application for Geohazard Mitigation and Assessment in Indonesia) noted in a Sept. 23 statement that Mount Anak Krakatau, or “Child of Krakatoa,” erupted 56 times on Sept. 22, spewing lava and ejecting dark smoke.

“Crater smoke is thin white to gray, with a thin to thick intensity, reaching a height of 1000 meters (3280 ft). A total of 56 eruptions with a height of 200-300 m (656-985 ft) have been observed, along with black smoke. Night-time footage from CCTV showed lava flares and incandescent flow.”

Thunderous sounds and weak tremors accompanied the eruption, MAGMA Indonesia stated, adding that tourists and other people were prohibited from approaching the crater within a 2 km (1.2 miles) radius.

The Japanese helicopter carrier JS Kaga, encountered the volcano, known for its deadly 1883 eruption, after the ship’s departure from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.

Reuters captured one of Anak Krakatau’s eruptions on camera on Sept. 22, as it catapulted molten lava into the air.

Observers at the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) said in a Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) that the volcano posed a level II (CAUTION) threat.

“Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE, Eruption with ash clouds at 22:48 UTC (05:48 local time). The eruption lasted for 115 seconds. Eruption and ash emission is continuing. Ash-cloud moving to south. Best estimate of ash-cloud top is around 1722 FT (538 M) above sea level, may be higher than what can be observed clearly. Source of height data: ground observer.”

The eruption has not caused any disruptions to flights.

Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure (BNPB) said in context of a previous Krakatau eruption that “this is an opportunity for volcano tourism and education—not all countries have volcanoes. Indonesia has 127 active volcanoes, or 13% of active volcanoes in the world.”

MAGMA Indonesia said that Anak Krakatau has experienced an increase in volcanic activity since June.

Lying on the Sunda Straits between Java and Sumatra islands, the original volcanic island Krakatau claimed more than 35,000 lives in a deadly eruption in 1883. The highly active Anak Krakatau, is a new island formed in the same location by an underwater eruption in 1927.

Volcano Under Glacier Offers Clues To Thicker Antarctic Ice

A region of West Antarctica is behaving differently from most of the rest of the continent: A large patch of ice there is thickening, unlike other parts of West Antarctica that are losing ice. Whether this thickening trend will continue affects the overall amount that melting or collapsing glaciers could raise the level of the world’s oceans.

Resnik_dhdt_modified

The track hidden in the middle of the ice sheet suggests that the current thickening is just a short-term feature that may not affect the glacier over the long term, the new study indicates. It also suggests that similar clues to the past may be hiding deep inside the ice sheet itself.

SHUTTING IT DOWN
“What’s exciting about this study is that we show how the structure of the ice sheet acts as a powerful record of what has happened in the past,” says first author Nicholas Holschuh, a postdoctoral researcher in Earth and space sciences at the University of Washington.

The data come from the ice above Mount Resnik, a 1.6-kilometer (mile-high) inactive volcano that currently sits under 300 meters (0.19 miles) of ice. The volcano lies just upstream of the thickening Kamb Ice Stream, part of a dynamic coastal region of ice that drains into Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

Studies show Kamb Ice Stream has flowed quickly in the past but stalled more than a century ago, leaving the region’s ice to drain via the four other major ice streams, a switch that glaciologists think happens every few hundred years. Meanwhile, the ice inland of Kamb Ice Stream is beginning to bulge, and it is unclear what will happen next.

“The shutdown of Kamb Ice Stream started long before the satellite era,” Holschuh says. “We need some longer-term indicators for its behavior to understand how important this shutdown is for the future of the region’s ice.”

BENEATH THE ICE

The paper analyzes two radar surveys of the area’s ice. Coauthors Robert Jacobel and Brian Welch collected one using the ice-penetrating radar system at St. Olaf College in Minnesota in 2002. Coauthor Howard Conway, a research professor of Earth and space sciences, collected the other in 2004. Conway noticed the missing layers and asked his colleagues to investigate.

“It wasn’t until we had spent probably six months with this data set that we started to piece together the fact that this thing that we could see within the ice sheet was forming in response to the subglacial volcano,” Holschuh says.

The study shows that the mysterious feature originates at the ice covering Mount Resnik. The authors believe that the volcano’s height pushes the relatively thin ice sheet up so much that it changes the local wind fields, and affects depositing of snow. So as the ice sheet passes over the volcano a section missed out on a few annual layers of snow.

“These missing layers are common in East Antarctica, where there is less precipitation and strong winds can strip away the surface snow,” Holschuh says. “But this is really one of the first times we’ve seen these missing layers in West Antarctica. It’s also the first time an unconformity has been used to reconstruct ice sheet motion of the past.”

CHECKING THE RECORD

Over time, the glacial record shows that this feature followed a straight path toward the sea. During the 5,700-year record, the five major coastal ice streams are thought to have sped up and slowed down several times, as water on the base lubricates the glacier’s flow and then periodically gets diverted, stalling one of the ice streams.

“Despite the fact that there are all these dramatic changes at the coast, the ice flowing in the interior was not really affected,” Holschuh says.

What the feature does show is that a change occurred a few thousand years ago. Previous UW research shows rapid retreat at the edge of the ice sheet until about 3,400 years ago, part of the recovery from the most recent ice age. The volcano track also shows a thinning of the ice at about this time.

“It means that the interior of the ice sheet is responding to the large-scale climate forcing from the last glacial maximum to today,” Holschuh says. “So the long-timescale climatic forcing is very consistent between the interior and the coast, but the shorter-timescale processes are really apparent in the coastal record but aren’t visible in the interior.”

Holschuh cautions that this is only a single data point and needs confirmation from other observations. He is part of an international team of Antarctic scientists looking at combining the hundreds of radar scans of Antarctic and Greenland glaciers that researchers originally did to measure ice thickness. Those data may also contain unique details of the glacier’s internal structure that researchers can use to recreate the history of the ice sheet’s motion.

“These persistent tracers of historic ice flow are probably all over the place,” Holschuh says. “The more we can tease apart the stories of past motion told by the structure of the ice sheet, the more realistic we can be in our predictions of how it will respond to future climate change.”