Not by Fire but by Ice


Discover What Killed the Dinosaurs . . . and Why it Could Soon Kill Us



A fiery deep-sea blast

Underwater volcanoes heat the seas
See video


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17 Dec 09 - These two short videos show the deepest erupting undersea volcano ever seen, with "fiery molten lava bubbles exploding 4,000 feet beneath the Pacific Ocean." The lava is about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ash, Rock, and Molten Lava - An explosion near the summit of West Mata volcano throws ash and rock. Molten lava glows below. Image is about six feet across in an eruptive area about 100 yards that runs along the summit. - Source: NOAA and NSF

A submersible robot took the videos during an underwater expedition in May at the West Mata volcano about 140 miles southwest of Samoa, and presented them at a geophysics conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

A Fiery Deep-Sea Blast - Hot magma blows up into the water before settling to the seafloor. Foreground: Jason remotely-operated vehicle with sampling hoses. Image is about 6-10 feet across in an eruptive area about 100 yards that runs along the summit.
Source: NOAA and NSF

"It was an underwater Fourth of July," said Bob Embley, a marine geologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in a news release. "Since the water pressure at that depth suppresses the violence of the volcano's explosions, we could get the underwater robot within feet of the active eruption."

SLIDESHOW: Scenes from the Undersea Volcanic Eruption

"Bright-red lava bubbles shot out of the volcano, releasing a smoke-like cloud of sulfur. The lava froze almost instantly as it hit the cold sea water, causing black rock to sink to the sea floor.

For the first time ever, scientists were able to witness the creation of a material called boninite, which had previously been found only in samples at least a million years old.

"Although 80 percent of the earth's volcanic activity occurs in the sea, scientists from NOAA and the National Science Foundation had never witnessed an eruption this deep and in this detail."

    Eighty percent? I think underwater volcanic activity is thousands of times
    more prevalent than now believed.

    As I say in Not by Fire but by Ice, those underwater volcanoes are pumping
    red-hot lava - 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit hot - into the seas and heating them.
    That's ten times the boiling point! (See the chapter entitled "Fish Stew.")

     In turn, the warmer seas pump ever more moisture into the skies, which
     inevitably results in ever more precipitation. When that precipitation falls
     in the winter, you have the makings of an ice age. I think we're seeing that
     happen right now. It's not global warming, it's ocean warming, and it's
     leading us into the next ice age.

     Warmer seas and colder skies: A deadly combination.

See short videos:
Thanks to Cam McNaughton for these video links

See entire article, entitled "Scientists watch deep-sea volcano for first time"
Thanks to George Fitzsimmons, Steven Woodcock, Robert Folaron and Eunice Farmilant for this link




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