Rumble in the deep? Fire down below?


Okay, so this is pretty cool. Jonathan Amos reports for the BBC:

Extraordinary video has been obtained in the Pacific Ocean of the deepest undersea eruption ever recorded.

The pictures show lavas bursting into the water at the West Mata submarine volcano, which is sited about 200km (125 miles) south-west of the Samoas.
The US Jason robotic submersible had to descend over 1,100m to acquire the high definition video.

The vehicle found microbes and a specialized volcano-dwelling shrimp thriving in hot, acidic waters.

“It’s an extraordinary environment,” said Joseph Resing, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Washington and the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean in Seattle, US.

“You have molten lavas at 1,400C producing acidic fluids – the sulphur dioxide makes these fluids as acidic as pH1.4 – and yet microbes are thriving,” he told BBC News.

“The magmatic gases sustain and provide energy for microbial life, and then the microbes provide energy for the shrimp.

“We see them very close to the volcano – within metres.”

Dr Resing has been describing the volcano’s behaviour here at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting, the world’s largest annual gathering of Earth scientists.

Not only is it the deepest eruption, but it is also among the hottest; the volcano, say researchers, expels boninite lava, which is apparently really hot.

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