A volcano about 300 miles off Oregon’s coast has erupted and has been spitting out lava for the past several days. This underwater volcano confirmed forecasts made by researchers last year and gives them insight into this hidden spot. It had previously erupted in 1998 and 2011.
Axial Seamount is the name given to the underwater spot and it comes up 3,000 feet from the ocean floor. It is a part of a string of volcanoes that straddle the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Scientists have been monitoring the volcano for the past fifteen years. They have been measuring movements in the seafloor as it inflates with magma and then finally deflates. CS Monitor described it as a balloon of sorts. The more the magma gets in the more the pressure builds. The volcano gets where it cannot hold the pressure anymore and the magma squirts out.
The seafloor drops quickly after the eruption. Supposedly it has dropped eight feet with the last eruption. Researchers previously connected monitoring gear to an undersea cable so that they are able to gather live data on the volcano. Raw Story said that its peak is 4,900 feet below the ocean’s surface. The pressure sensors attached to the cable detected that an eruption was close. They also detected over 8,000 small earthquakes that occurred over a 24-hour span.
The pressure sensors also detected that the seafloor was going to drop which is also a sign of magma erupting. The eruption has slowed but as of Friday magma was still spitting out. The last time the volcano erupted in April 2011, scientists discovered the eruption merely by accident. They had made a routine trip to the volcano in late July. They had been planning instruments that had been left there before. During that time a robotic vehicle had been sent there to explore the volcanic site. A fresh lava flow was revealed that was over twelve feet in thickness. After this discovery scientists predicted another eruption for 2016.
Scientists Chadwick and Nooner plan to return to the spot this summer by ship. They want to confirm that an eruption occurred and also retrieve data. They want to better understand the behavior of volcanoes in that no one fully understands how the magma chambers works and how it flows up through the crust. The spot is also where hydrothermal vents reside as well as a biological system and scientists are looking to further investigate these.
Scientists said in a CBS interview that the experience was astonishing. The could not believe that data could be collected from 300 miles away with no one nearby. Through the cable data was collected at light speed and received by scientists in milliseconds. The volcano that is roughly 300 miles west of Oregon is along the boundary of the tectonic plates called Pacific Plate and Juan de Fuca Plate. Last autumn Chadwick and Nooner had pedicted a volcano eruption at that spot within fifteen months and they were pretty close.
Scientists have said that the effects are not likely to be felt on land and the chance of a tsunami is extremely minimal. The latest eruption has given researchers information into the hidden spot and a chance at predicting future happenings. The study and the data collected can help in future studies and assist scientists in better making sense of things. They feel according to Reuters that their excursion to the hot spot will help to explain things and give them a better idea of what happened. Scientists are optimistic about their potential findings at the site of the underwater volcano. Fortunately even with its powerful nature many effects are not likely to be experienced and hopefully experts are able to obtain data to predict the next eruption so that everyone can be prepared just in case.
By Heather Granruth