West Mata - Explosive Deep-Ocean Volcano

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In summary, an underwater volcanic eruption has occurred near Iwo Jima, and the Japanese coast guard is investigating the cause. There is no threat of a tsunami, and the eruption is still active.
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Iwo Jima and Japan lie along the western edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire (ROF). During the last 18 months, the seismic and volcanic activity seems to have increased, and along with the Sumatran tsunamis and a few big quakes off North and South America, one has to wonder its all related.

TOKYO (AP) - Japanese coast guard officials said Sunday they believe an underwater volcanic eruption has caused a 3,300-foot high column of steam to rise from the Pacific Ocean near Iwo Jima.

The vapor was reported Saturday after Japanese troops stationed on the small island observed the massive, cloudy plume rise from the sea about 30 miles southeast of the island, said Maritime Self-Defense Forces Hiroshi Shirai.

Defense officials who flew over the area in a helicopter said the surface of the water appeared red where the column was reported, which could indicate underwater volcanic activity, Shirai said.

On Sunday, coast guard aircraft crews flew over the site and returned with a video image confirming the earlier reports, said Shigeyuki Sato, a spokesman for the service. The survey crew also found grayish mud rising up from the bottom of the ocean, but it was not immediately known whether any volcanic gases are being released.

The location is known as Fukutokuoka-no-ba, an undersea volcano which last erupted in 1986 for three days, Sato said.

The coast guard aircraft ended the day's survey after less than two hours due to safety concerns, but plan to return to the site as early as Monday for further monitoring. The service issued an international warning for vessels, urging them to stay away from the waters.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said there was no danger of tsunamis, sometimes caused by undersea seismic activity. Iwo Jima is about 700 miles southeast of Tokyo.
See pics at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050703/ap_on_sc/japan_underwater_eruption;_ylt=AujOWQrFU1YXH1Jai7bu.5.s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MzV0MTdmBHNlYwM3NTM-
 
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Scientists Discover and Image Explosive Deep-Ocean Volcano
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20091217_volcano2.html
NOAA-NSF Mission Adds to Understanding of Basic Earth Processes
December 17, 2009
Scientists funded by NOAA and the National Science Foundation recorded the deepest erupting volcano yet discovered, describing high-definition video of the undersea eruption as “spectacular.” Eruption of the West Mata volcano, discovered in May, occurred nearly 4,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, in an area bounded by Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

Imagery includes large molten lava bubbles approximately three feet across bursting into cold seawater, glowing red vents explosively ejecting lava into the sea, and the first-observed advance of lava flows across the deep-ocean seafloor. Sounds of the explosive eruption were recorded by a hydrophone and later matched to the video footage.

“We found a type of lava never before seen erupting from an active volcano, and for the first time observed molten lava flowing across the deep-ocean seafloor,” said the mission’s Chief Scientist Joseph Resing, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Washington who collaborates with NOAA through the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean. “Though NOAA and partners discovered a much shallower eruption in 2004 in the Mariana Arc, the deeper we get, the closer the eruption is to those that formed most of the oceanic crust.”

. . . .
This area has had some rather significant earthquakes lately. I wonder if they are tied to whatever is driving this volcano?

The summit of West Mata Volcano is nearly a mile below the ocean surface (1,165 meters / 3,882 feet), and the base, shown in blue, descends to nearly two miles (3,000 meters / 9,842 feet) deep. The volcano, located in the Lau basin (15° 5' S, 173° 45' W) near the Tonga Trench, has a six-mile-long rift zone running along its spine in a SW/NE orientation.

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/images/map_satellite_altimetry_labeled.png

Some big earthquakes nearby.

7.2 Mag - http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2009/us2009nuam/
Date/Time: Monday, November 09, 2009 at 10:44:54 UTC
Location: 17.212°S, 178.413°E
Depth: 585.1 km (363.6 miles)

6.8 Mag - http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2009/us2009pja1/
Date/Time: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 12:47:14 UTC
Location: 20.641°S, 174.068°W
Depth: 10 km (6.2 miles)

8.0 Mag - http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/eqinthenews/2009/us2009mdbi/
Date/Time: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 17:48:10 UTC
Location: 15.509°S, 172.034°W
Depth: 18 km (11.2 miles)

Mag 8 was the big quake in Somoa.

6.6 Mag - http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/eqinthenews/2009/us2009kybj/
Date/Time: Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 14:51:33 UTC
Location: 15.187°S, 172.526°W
Depth: 11 km (6.8 miles)
 
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I find the recent increase in seismic and volcanic activity in the Pacific Ring of Fire to be a cause for concern. The eruption of West Mata, an explosive deep-ocean volcano, and the reported steam column near Iwo Jima suggest that there may be a connection between these events. It is possible that the recent Sumatran tsunamis and large earthquakes off the coast of North and South America are also related to this increase in activity.

The location of these events along the western edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire is not surprising, as this region is known for its high concentration of active volcanoes and seismic activity. The fact that the last eruption of Fukutokuoka-no-ba, the undersea volcano near Iwo Jima, was in 1986 highlights the unpredictable nature of these events and the need for continued monitoring.

It is important for us as scientists to continue studying and monitoring these events in order to better understand the complex processes that are occurring beneath the ocean's surface. This will not only help us to better predict and prepare for future eruptions, but also to gain a deeper understanding of the Earth's dynamic systems.

In light of this recent activity, I urge caution for any vessels in the area and encourage further monitoring and research to better understand the potential risks and impacts of these events. It is also important for the general public to be aware of these ongoing events and to heed any safety warnings issued by authorities.
 

Related to West Mata - Explosive Deep-Ocean Volcano

What is West Mata?

West Mata is an explosive deep-ocean volcano located in the Pacific Ocean, near the islands of Fiji and Tonga. It is an underwater volcano that is approximately 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) below the surface of the ocean.

When did West Mata erupt?

West Mata was first discovered to be erupting in 2009 by a team of scientists who were conducting research in the area. Since then, it has continued to erupt intermittently, with the most recent eruption occurring in 2012.

What makes West Mata unique?

West Mata is considered unique because it is one of the few known active deep-ocean volcanoes. It also has a high frequency of eruptions, with an average of one eruption every five years. Additionally, it is located in a remote and difficult-to-reach area, making it a challenging site for scientific study.

What type of eruptions does West Mata have?

West Mata is known for its explosive eruptions, which are characterized by the ejection of hot ash, gas, and lava into the water. These eruptions are caused by the interaction between the hot magma and the cold seawater, resulting in a violent release of energy.

What can we learn from studying West Mata?

Studying West Mata can provide valuable insights into the processes that drive underwater volcanic activity. It can also help us better understand the formation and evolution of the Earth's crust, as well as the potential hazards associated with deep-ocean volcanoes. Additionally, the unique microbial communities that thrive in the extreme conditions around West Mata can provide insights into the potential for life on other planets.

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