Geoscientist Finds Surprise Hidden in the Pacific

Jan 15, 2008

UT Dallas geoscientist Dr. Robert J. Stern and former master’s student Neil Basu were part of a research team that discovered and studied an extinct underwater volcano near the southern Mariana islands, near Guam, in the western Pacific Ocean.

The volcano lies more than 300 meters below the ocean surface and contains a large volcanic depression, or caldera, that is comparable in size to better-known examples Krakatoa (Indonesia) and Crater Lake, Ore.

It was named “West Rota Volcano” because of its proximity to the island of Rota in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The results of the research were published in a recent edition of the scientific journal The Island Arc.

“We knew there was submarine volcano there since the early 1980s, but we didn't know that it had a huge caldera,” Stern said.

“It was really exciting to explore the caldera walls with modern ROV technology.”

Datings techniques indicate that the volcano began growing more than 300,000 years ago and that the climactic, caldera-forming eruption occurred 37,000-51,000 years ago.

Stern and Basu, now with Pioneer NRC, worked with US and Japanese scientists during three research cruises aboard U.S. and Japanese research vessels that studied the volcano between 2001 and 2005.

The research team used modern shipboard sonar swath-mapping techniques to map the volcano and tethered seafloor robots known as ROVs to examine and sample the volcano.

The research team also discovered significant mineralization in the caldera walls.

“Finding the massive sulfide deposits was an added bonus,” Stern said.

Source: University of Texas at Dallas

Explore further: Study outlines 20-year process to create meteorological partnership between US and Cuba

Related Stories

Valles Caldera looks to future as national park

Dec 23, 2014

The management experiment at Valles Caldera National Preserve is coming to an end as the National Park Service prepares to take over the 140-square-mile property in northern New Mexico.

Magma pancakes beneath Lake Toba

Oct 30, 2014

Where do the tremendous amounts of material that are ejected to from huge volcanic calderas during super-eruptions actually originate?

A hellacious two weeks on Jupiter's moon Io

Aug 04, 2014

Three massive volcanic eruptions occurred on Jupiter's moon Io within a two-week period last August, leading astronomers to speculate that these presumed rare "outbursts," which can send material hundreds ...

Supervolcano triggers recreated in X-ray laboratory

Jan 06, 2014

Scientists have reproduced the conditions inside the magma chamber of a supervolcano to understand what it takes to trigger its explosion. These rare events represent the biggest natural catastrophes on Earth ...

Fossil supervolcano highlighted in new UNESCO Geopark

Nov 25, 2013

Piedmont territory in northwest Italy is designated geopark backed by 80 Alpine communities. Area is an important geological and cultural locale that promotes awareness of earth sciences and sustainable use ...

Recommended for you

Image: Cambodian rivers from orbit

May 22, 2015

A flooded landscape in Cambodia between the Mekong River (right) and Tonlé Sap river (left) is pictured by Japan's ALOS satellite. The centre of this image is about 30 km north of the centre of the country's ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.