FunNature & AnimalUnderwater volcano inhabited by 'mutant sharks' erupts

Underwater volcano inhabited by 'mutant sharks' erupts

The US space agency has warned that the underwater volcano in the Solomon Islands, nicknamed ‘sharkcano’ where two species of sharks live, is starting to erupt. This is shown by satellite images, where a column of discolored water emitted by the Kavachi volcano, which is located about 24 kilometers south of Vangunu Island (belonging to the Solomon Islands), is perfectly visible.

The volcano would be throwing smoke and ash and, very possibly, fragments of the ‘mutant sharks’ (adapted to survive in this characteristic environment) that live inside it, into the atmosphere.

According to the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program, and new NASA satellite data, they suggest activity for several days in April and May 2022, after the undersea volcano erupted in October 2021.

“(An image) acquired on May 14, 2022 by Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9, shows a discolored column of water emitted by the underwater volcano,” NASA said on social media. “Previous research has shown that such plumes of superheated acidic water typically contain particulate matter, volcanic rock fragments, and sulfur . Prior to this recent activity, large eruptions were observed at Kavachi in 2014 and 2007.”

A unique environment

Submarine volcanoes have the same characteristics as surface volcanoes, including eruptions.

Kavachi is considered one of the most active underwater volcanoes in the Pacific region. Alias Sharkcano since 2015, that’s when scientists were shocked to find two species of sharks, including hammerhead sharks , living and thriving in the hot, acidic, sulfur-laden water of the deepest ocean crater , accompanied by jacks. blue fin, snappers, six-gill rays or jellyfish living in this extreme environment, according to a study published in the journal Oceanography. The researchers also found microbial communities that thrive on sulfur.

The presence of sharks in the crater of the underwater volcano raised “new questions about the ecology of active underwater volcanoes and the extreme environments in which large marine animals may exist,” the authors said.

Kavachi was formed by plate tectonics. It is currently estimated that the top of the volcano is 20 meters below sea level and its base at a depth of 1.2 kilometers. The volcano produces lavas ranging from basaltic, rich in magnesium and iron, to andesitic, which contains more silica. It is known for having phreatomagmatic eruptions in which the interaction of magma and water causes explosive eruptions that expel steam, ash, volcanic rock fragments, and glowing bombs.

The first reports of activity were recorded in 1939: the first eruption. Since then, there have been at least 11 significant eruptions (36 eruptive periods in total) and some were so powerful that they created new islands. However, their small size made them unable to resist erosion and they eventually became submerged.

Referencia: NASA

Phillips, B.T., M. Dunbabin, B. Henning, C. Howell, A. DeCiccio, A. Flinders, .A. Kelley, J.J. Scott, S. Albert, S. Carey, R. Tsadok, and A. Grinham. 2016.
Exploring the “Sharkcano”: Biogeochemical observations of the Kavachi submarine volcano (Solomon Islands). Oceanography 29(4):160–169, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2016.85.

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