Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It Came from Beneath the Sea: Satellite Photos Show Underwater Volcano Erupting

© NASA, Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon
Amazing satellite images show the extent of an erupting submarine volcano in the Canary Islands.

The Advanced Land Imager on NASA's Earth Observing-1 satellite took the startling images on November 2 of the volcano erupting a plume of volcanic material into the waters off El Hierro island. The sea has been seen boiling and bubbling from the intense heat of the molten lava and the plume of volcanic material now extends over ten kilometers from the undersea volcanic vent.

The first eruption took place on October 10, after the island had experienced a series of earthquake swarms and harmonic tremors that began in July of this year. The eruption is venting at a depth estimated between 50 to 100 meters beneath the surface of the water. The heat is so great that it has warmed the ocean around the volcano by as much as 10 degrees Celsius, scientists said.

Last week, a village near to where the volcano was erupting was evacuated, as fears grew of a larger eruption and a potentially life-threatening situation developing.

The Earth-Imaging satellite passes over the volcano approximately every 16 days. Scientists will compare the data to see if any changes have taken place during that time.

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