Out of sight, out of mind? Not so fast… An underwater volcano just north of New Zealand is currently undergoing ‘changes’ faster than nearly any other volcano has in recorded history. Researchers believe only Vesuvius and Mount St Helens have recorded larger growth rates, according to a report from BBC News.
The Monowai ‘submarine’ volcano which lies at the intersection of the Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates underwent one of the fastest episodes of volcano growth documented on Earth. It added about 8.75 million cubic metres of rock to its summit – a volume equal to 3500 Olympic-size swimming pools – in just five days (reported in the science pages of stuff.co.nz in New Zealand, “Volcano grows at astounding rate” ).
New lava flows raised that area by 79 meters (260 feet), while part of the volcano’s summit collapsed by as much as 19 meters (62 feet). Most striking was the creation of an entirely new volcanic cone.
A study released just days ago published in the journal Nature Geoscience and authored by members at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, said “The collapse and growth rates implied by our data are extremely high, compared with measured long-term growth rates of the volcano, demonstrating the pulsating nature of submarine volcanism and highlighting the dynamic nature of the sea floor.”
Anthony B. Watts, who led the survey, said “Any movement on the seabed has the potential to create a tsunami. An earthquake suddenly dislocates the seabed. Here a violent disturbance lasted five days with magma oozing out which might be too slow to trigger a tsunami – but it’s unknown.”
Most of Earth’s volcanoes are under water. As a result of their relative inaccessibility, little is known of the structure and evolution of submarine volcanoes.
Why report this on a survival preparedness site?
Answer: When risks are unseen (in this case… literally), most people are not aware. Submarine (underwater) landslides are a particularly dangerous phenomenon which can cause tremendous damage and loss of life (look at Japan [and Fukushima] for example, and the Indonesian tsunami that killed so many people not long ago… even though these were caused by shifting underwater land mass due to earthquakes).
It is interesting (alarming?) to discover that this particular underwater volcano near New Zealand is growing so rapidly, signifying and reinforcing the seemingly high geophysical earth changes we’ve been experiencing lately.
Those who live on or near the coast, or sea level, should always be extra cautious and aware of their unique threats to survival.