Underwater volcanism caught in action
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
Most people don't realize that a majority of the earth's volcanoes are underwater. That is to say, the mid-ocean ridge system that runs along the bottom of all the major oceans can be considered one big volcano. However, thanks to its location deep underwater, we have only had second- or third-hand evidence of eruptions at mid-ocean ridges or seamounts.
Not any longer according to my graduate alma mater, Oregon State University. An active eruption was captured at Brimstone Pit in 2006, near Guam, by a team looking for hydrothermal activity at the sea's bottom. The eruption appears to be a very gassy eruption - explosive undersea activity! The research team were able to record the sounds of the eruption from Brimstone Pit (also known by the less sexy name NW Rota-1) and see some of the glowing from the extruded lava (although apparently there wasn't much lava that they could see). This is an exciting discovery - to catch an undersea volcano in action - because we don't know much about what happens in large, underwater explosive eruptions, and we know that there are a number of undersea calderas off Japan that might be responsible for some unidentified ash found in Greenland and elsewhere.
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