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: Researchers construct a model of impact for El Nino / La Nina events

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tablets, cars drive AT&T wireless gains—not phones

3 hours ago

AT&T says it gained 2 million wireless subscribers in the latest quarter, but most were from non-phone services such as tablets and Internet-connected cars. The company is facing pricing pressure from smaller rivals T-Mobile ...

Twitter looks to weave into more mobile apps

3 hours ago

Twitter on Wednesday set out to weave itself into mobile applications with a free "Fabric" platform to help developers build better programs and make more money.

Recommended for you

Tropical Depression 9 forms in Gulf of Mexico

4 hours ago

Tropical Depression Nine formed over the western Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to make a quick landfall on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. NOAA's GOES-East Satellite captured the birth of the ...

$58 million effort to study potential new energy source

9 hours ago

A research team led by The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded approximately $58 million to analyze deposits of frozen methane under the Gulf of Mexico that hold enormous potential to increase ...

And now, the volcano forecast

11 hours ago

Scientists are using volcanic gases to understand how volcanoes work, and as the basis of a hazard-warning forecast system.

User comments : 0