Tag: volcano

The Curious Case Of The Sinking Volcano

Tsunamis and volcanoes are catastrophic natural disasters, and there is a volcano in Italy that is a tsunami threat to Scicillian coastline for one very weird reason. The volcano isn’t erupting; in fact, a part of it is sinking. Why is this a problem?

Mount Etna Is Falling

Mount Etna lies near the Sicilian coastline. This mountain was created by the slow and steady oozings of lava over millions of years from the volcano that lies in the center of it. Although it has shown no signs of an imminent eruption, Mount Etna has scientists and people who live nearby extremely worried.

Since the 1980s, there has been consistent data recorded to prove that a huge chunk of the eastern side of the Mountain is falling apart.

How Bad Is It?

This has the potential to be a catastrophic event, so there are multiple groups of scientists keeping an eye on things. One group says that a humongous chunk of the mountain has been moving as much as two inches every year.

Another group has data to show that the entire mountain, not just a chunk of it, has been sinking into the seafloor by a little less than 15 millimeters a year. Both groups have noted that although the rogue chunk of the mountain as a whole is moving by a few inches a year, there are portions of the chunk that moved several inches in the course of a month.

What Is Happening?

Mountains are symbols of stability, so what is making this one move? At first, scientists hypothesized that it was due to the magma bubbling on the inside of the mountain. Magma is very hot, corrosive, and destructive. It was hypothesized that magma explosions inside the volcano were to blame for sudden movements on the outside of it.

That theory has been disproven, and now scientists think that the culprit for the curious case of the sinking mountain is simply gravity. The eastern portion of the mountain has begun to separate, and gravity is just continuing the process. Since the mountain is extremely heavy, there is potential for it to suddenly drop even further down or to break off completely.

Why Is This Dangerous?

The portion of Mount Etna that is most in danger of breaking off or dropping suddenly is already completely underwater, but any sudden movement of something as large as a chunk of a mountain can have a widespread effect. Have you ever put two cups together and then separated them underwater? If you have, you know that it causes a very loud noise and a huge bubble.

The underwater separation of Mount Etna will cause humongous waves to go radiating through the Ionian Sea. This could cause life-threatening, humongous tsunamis on the Scillian coastlines. We often think of tsunamis as being caused by earthquakes, but this monster of a tsunami could be caused by a portion of the Earth breaking apart. Scientists will be keeping an extremely close eye on Mount Etna.

The Glass Wonderland Of The Ocean’s Deepest Volcanic Eruption

The ocean is home to a variety of spectacular wonders. It doesn’t take much to go into the ocean to find something that seems like it’s come from another world entirely or even another galaxy. Deep sea divers often bring back photographs of mind-blowing creatures and rock structures. The world below the waves is a daring and epic world. One of the most recent of discoveries beneath the ocean is that of a volcanic eruption happening below the surface.

A Beautiful Eruption

While many people associate volcanic eruption with death and destruction, undersea vent eruptions can cause a visual spectacle anyone can appreciate. This is certainly the case for the eruption that occurred near the Mariana Trench near Guam that happened only a couple months ago. Deep sea scientists discovered a glassy wonderland created by an eruption from the hydrothermal vents in the area.

A Rare Spectacle

According to Geologist Bill Chadwick, the eruption of deep-sea hydrothermal vents is actually pretty rare and scientists are rushing to use this opportunity to study the nature of this phenomena and share that information with the rest of the world. Not only is it a beautiful and rare occurrence, but it’s a scientifically valuable one that will help researchers in the future.

New Lava Deposits Equal Value

The deposits that the scientists found were fairly recent, which was a very good thing. Typically they come across older deposits which aren’t as useful scientifically as the chemical reactions that happen when the lava first interacts with the water have already happened. In this case, scientists can study what happens in the earlier stages of an underwater volcanic eruption, which hasn’t happened before.


Sentry To The Rescue!

The Geologist Bill Chadwick was able to make his findings with his team with the help of the underwater autonomous vehicle called Sentry. This amazing vehicle was built by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and is used to survey, collect data and photographs of the Mariana Trench region to bring back information for the geologists and oceanographers to study.


Glass Menagerie

Sentry’s search turned up a large finding, much larger than the scientists had expected. What Sentry discovered were brand new lava flows, which are rare because this happens every few hundred years. The said lava flows also being 450 feet thick and stretching 4.5 miles long. These lava flows coalesce into a beautiful glass menagerie of natural beauty. Not only are these structures of glass beautiful but they also serve as housing for the many creatures who have come to call hydrothermal vents their home.

The oceans are a beautiful place and house some of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Sometimes these natural wonders are difficult to find but with advances in technology, they are becoming more common. More of the oceans are being discovered daily. Perhaps someday with more help with automotive tools like Sentry, the world can discover new depths of imagination and science.

MORE: Underwater volcanos have created a natural highway and sanctuary for traveling whales only discovered recently, baffling scientists.