Underwater Antarctic volcanoes discovered in the Southern Ocean

July 11, 2011
Sea-floor mapping technology reveals volcanoes beneath the sea surface.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have discovered previously unknown volcanoes in the ocean waters around the remote South Sandwich Islands. Using ship-borne sea-floor mapping technology during research cruises onboard the RRS James Clark Ross, the scientists found 12 volcanoes beneath the sea surface – some up to 3km high. They found 5km diameter craters left by collapsing volcanoes and 7 active volcanoes visible above the sea as a chain of islands.

The research is important also for understanding what happens when volcanoes erupt or collapse underwater and their potential for creating serious hazards such as tsunamis. Also this sub-sea landscape, with its waters warmed by volcanic activity creates a rich habitat for many species of wildlife and adds valuable new insight about life on earth.

Speaking at the International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences in Edinburgh Dr Phil Leat from said,

"There is so much that we don't understand about volcanic activity beneath the sea – it's likely that volcanoes are erupting or collapsing all the time. The technologies that scientists can now use from ships not only give us an opportunity to piece together the story of the evolution of our earth, but they also help shed new light on the development of natural events that pose hazards for people living in more populated regions on the planet."

Explore further: Submerged volcanoes pose tsunami threat

More information: The volcanoes were mapped at high resolution using multi-beam sonar during two research cruises (2007 and 2010) on the British Antarctic Survey ship RRS James Clark Ross. The International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences 2011 will be held at the John McIntyre Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh from 11-15 July. To view abstracts please see: www.geos.ed.ac.uk/isaes2011/abstracts_v2.pdf

Related Stories

Submerged volcanoes pose tsunami threat

July 28, 2005

One of the world’s most active volcanic areas is a relatively unknown part of the seabed between New Zealand and Tonga, and could trigger a devastating tsunami at any moment, ANU geologist Professor Richard Arculus warned ...

First comprehensive 'inventory' of life in Antarctica

December 1, 2008

The first comprehensive "inventory" of sea and land animals around a group of Antarctic islands reveals a region that is rich in biodiversity and has more species than the Galapagos. The study provides an important benchmark ...

More deep-sea vents discovered

February 14, 2011

Scientists aboard the Royal Research Ship James Cook have discovered a new set of deep-sea volcanic vents in the chilly waters of the Southern Ocean. The discovery is the fourth made by the research team in three years, ...

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

July 28, 2015

The world's deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according ...

0 comments

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.