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‘Mic ‘ d’ underwater volcano offers a unique glimpse of the undersea eruptions

A seismometer (the long black cylinder on the right) installed in 2013 in addition to the Axial Seamount. The green plate, transmits real-time data to the orange cable and then back to the coast, as part of the National Science Foundation the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

(University of Washington/OOI-NSF/CSSF-ROPOS)

SAN FRANCISCO — Although volcanoes dots on the face of the planet and can be found on every continent, the researchers say that most of the Earth’s volcanic eruptions happen in a dark and secluded location: deep under water. And now, last year the eruption of one of the most active undersea volcanoes is offering clues about these explosive processes, which may help scientists better understand volcanoes in the country, including those who pose a serious threat to humans.

In April 2015, an underwater volcano known as Axial Seamount erupted 290 miles off the coast of Oregon. Thanks to a network of underwater sensors, scientists were able to study the submarine volcano is now better than ever before. The researchers found some of the first scientific results from that eruption in a news briefing here on Dec. 15 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Axial Seamount the previous eruptions, in 1998 and 2011, prompted scientists to implement a network of seven seismic stations to study the volcano. The so-called Ocean Observatories Initiative Cabled Array went online in 2014, and the first observations of these sensors (in combination with a consistent monitoring of the mile-high volcano for almost two decades) led researchers to correctly predict that the Axial Seamount could erupt sometime in 2015. [Axial Seamount: Images of an Eruption of an Undersea Volcano]

An observation that helped this prediction was the patterns of the seabed deformation of the surface of the changes caused by the movement of the magma, according to the study co-author Scott Nooner, a geologist at the University of North Carolina.

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“If the volcano is charged with magma on the surface of the volcano swells up like a balloon,” Nooner said. “Then, during an eruption of the magma from the underlying magma chamber and the surface of the volcano drops.”

The scientists also observed increased seismic activity in the run-up to the April eruption. Before the volcanic event, the frequency of small earthquakes near the volcano increased from less than 500 per day to approximately 2,000 per day, ” she said.

Outside of the seismic sensors and seafloor mapping , there is a whole network of other instruments that the volcano’s underwater observatory. Of cameras and temperature measurements, instruments used to collect data about the chemistry and biology of the volcanic field, this network will Axial Seamount is one of the most studied volcanoes, the researchers said.

Although far from being a threat to the life of the man, the submarine eruption of Axial Seamount is very turbulent.

“Underwater volcanoes make a mess,” said research partner, David Clague, a geologist and volcanologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California. “The water column is full of small particles that are emitted during the eruption, pieces of glass and bacteria from the surface.”

Even months after the eruption of the event, the researchers still have difficulty with the study of the volcano because of the cloudy water, she said.

One of the following stages of the research will be investigated how the local ecosystems to be affected by such eruption.

“When this volcano erupts the next time, we will have an even larger data set than we have now,” said study co-author William Wilcock, a geologist at the University of Washington. “We will be able to observe, not only the geophysics of eruptions, but we will be able to understand how the hydrothermal systems and the life systems they support will be affected by the eruption and we will be able to do that in real-time.”

By a strict control of the Axial Seamount, the scientists are gaining a better understanding of the volcanic activity in general. Their research can be applied on the basis of volcanoes, deadly eruptions. Scientists are able to use only the short-term eruption forecasts for the country on the basis of volcanoes — usually a few weeks in advance. But Nooner said the models used for the forecast of last year, Axial Seamount eruption months in advance, on a day to be refined for terrestrial volcanoes.

The research is developed in two articles published online on Dec. 15 in the journal Science, and published a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Original article on Live Science .

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