Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate

Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate
Magma from undersea eruptions congealed into forms known as pillow basalts on the Juan De Fuca Ridge, off the US Pacific Northwest. A new study shows such eruptions wax and wane on regular schedules. Credit: Deborah Kelley/University of Washington

Vast ranges of volcanoes hidden under the oceans are presumed by scientists to be the gentle giants of the planet, oozing lava at slow, steady rates along mid-ocean ridges. But a new study shows that they flare up on strikingly regular cycles, ranging from two weeks to 100,000 years—and, that they erupt almost exclusively during the first six months of each year. The pulses—apparently tied to short- and long-term changes in earth's orbit, and to sea levels—may help trigger natural climate swings.

Scientists have already speculated that volcanic cycles on land emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide might influence climate; but up to now there was no evidence from submarine volcanoes. The findings suggest that models of earth's natural climate dynamics, and by extension human-influenced climate change, may have to be adjusted. The study appears this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"People have ignored seafloor volcanoes on the idea that their influence is small—but that's because they are assumed to be in a steady state, which they're not," said the study's author, marine geophysicist Maya Tolstoy of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "They respond to both very large forces, and to very small ones, and that tells us that we need to look at them much more closely." A related study by a separate team this week in the journal Science bolsters Tolstoy's case by showing similar long-term patterns of submarine volcanism in an Antarctic region Tolstoy did not study.

Volcanically active mid-ocean ridges crisscross earth's seafloors like stitching on a baseball, stretching some 37,000 miles. They are the growing edges of giant tectonic plates; as lavas push out, they form new areas of seafloor, which comprise some 80 percent of the planet's crust. Conventional wisdom holds that they erupt at a fairly constant rate—but Tolstoy finds that the ridges are actually now in a languid phase. Even at that, they produce maybe eight times more lava annually than land volcanoes. Due to the chemistry of their magmas, the carbon dioxide they are thought to emit is currently about the same as, or perhaps a little less than, from land volcanoes—about 88 million metric tons a year. But were the undersea chains to stir even a little bit more, their CO2 output would shoot up, says Tolstoy.

Some scientists think volcanoes may act in concert with Milankovitch cycles—repeating changes in the shape of earth's solar orbit, and the tilt and direction of its axis—to produce suddenly seesawing hot and cold periods. The major one is a 100,000-year cycle in which the planet's orbit around the sun changes from more or less an annual circle into an ellipse that annually brings it closer or farther from the sun. Recent ice ages seem to build up through most of the cycle; but then things suddenly warm back up near the orbit's peak eccentricity. The causes are not clear.

Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate
Alternating ridges and valleys formed by volcanism near the East Pacific Rise, a mid-ocean ridge in the Pacific Ocean. Such formations indicate ancient highs and lows of volcanic activity. Credit: Haymon et al., NOAA-OE, WHOI

Enter volcanoes. Researchers have suggested that as icecaps build on land, pressure on underlying volcanoes also builds, and eruptions are suppressed. But when warming somehow starts and the ice begins melting, pressure lets up, and eruptions surge. They belch CO2 that produces more warming, which melts more ice, which creates a self-feeding effect that tips the planet suddenly into a warm period. A 2009 paper from Harvard University says that land volcanoes worldwide indeed surged six to eight times over background levels during the most recent deglaciation, 12,000 to 7,000 years ago. The corollary would be that do the opposite: as earth cools, sea levels may drop 100 meters, because so much water gets locked into ice. This relieves pressure on , and they erupt more. At some point, could the increased CO2 from undersea eruptions start the warming that melts the ice covering volcanoes on land?

That has been a mystery, partly because undersea eruptions are almost impossible to observe. However, Tolstoy and other researchers recently have been able to closely monitor 10 submarine eruption sites using sensitive new seismic instruments. They have also produced new high-resolution maps showing outlines of past lava flows. Tolstoy analyzed some 25 years of seismic data from ridges in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans, plus maps showing past activity in the south Pacific.

The long-term eruption data, spread over more than 700,000 years, showed that during the coldest times, when sea levels are low, undersea volcanism surges, producing visible bands of hills. When things warm up and sea levels rise to levels similar to the present, lava erupts more slowly, creating bands of lower topography. Tolstoy attributes this not only to the varying , but to closely related changes in earth's orbit. When the orbit is more elliptical, Earth gets squeezed and unsqueezed by the sun's gravitational pull at a rapidly varying rate as it spins daily—a process that she thinks tends to massage undersea magma upward, and help open the tectonic cracks that let it out. When the orbit is fairly (though not completely) circular, as it is now, the squeezing/unsqueezing effect is minimized, and there are fewer eruptions.

Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate
An ocean-bottom seismometer (sailboat-like object) was trapped amid erupting magma in 2006 at the East Pacific Rise. Such instruments are providing new insights into the timing of eruptions. Credit: Dan Fornari/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The idea that remote gravitational forces influence volcanism is mirrored by the short-term data, says Tolstoy. She says the seismic data suggest that today, undersea volcanoes pulse to life mainly during periods that come every two weeks. That is the schedule upon which combined gravity from the moon and sun cause ocean tides to reach their lowest points, thus subtly relieving pressure on volcanoes below. Seismic signals interpreted as eruptions followed fortnightly low tides at eight out of nine study sites. Furthermore, Tolstoy found that all known modern eruptions occur from January through June. January is the month when Earth is closest to the sun, July when it is farthest—a period similar to the squeezing/unsqueezing effect Tolstoy sees in longer-term cycles. "If you look at the present-day eruptions, volcanoes respond even to much smaller forces than the ones that might drive climate," she said.

Daniel Fornari, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution not involved in the research, called the study "a very important contribution." He said it was unclear whether the contemporary seismic measurements signal actual lava flows or just seafloor rumbles and cracking. But, he said, the study "clearly could have important implications for better quantifying and characterizing our assessment of climate variations over decadal to tens to hundreds of thousands of years cycles."

Edward Baker, a senior ocean scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said, "The most interesting takeaway from this paper is that it provides further evidence that the solid Earth, and the air and water all operate as a single system."


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Deep-sea volcanoes don't just produce lava flows, they also explode

Journal information: Geophysical Research Letters

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Feb 05, 2015
To all those who said that it was not possible that undersea volcanoes could possibly contribute to warming the planet: Told you so. :-)

Now it is just a matter of finding out more about how much. But, I have spoken of this before. I just could not cite unpublished information. Now it is beginning to make its way out there. More is yet to come. I'll be curious as to how various people will deal with this new (not new for me) information and how they will create new fudge factors to help them get around it.

I would hope that they would instead look at this information and see what happens when they incorporate it into the models as well as study it further.

Feb 05, 2015
To all those who said that it was not possible that undersea volcanoes could possibly contribute to warming the planet: Told you so. :-)
No one claimed that, but nice deflection.

Now it is just a matter of finding out more about how much. But, I have spoken of this before. I just could not cite unpublished information. Now it is beginning to make its way out there. More is yet to come. I'll be curious as to how various people will deal with this new (not new for me) information and how they will create new fudge factors to help them get around it.
Ohh you so smart!! "Shocking twist to climate change debate - Skepticus Rex realizes that volcanoes can influence climate!" I can see the headlines now!


Feb 05, 2015
The revelation of the correlation of seafloor volcanic activity to the orbits of the earth and moon is delightful.

It's probably a little too early to gloat, SR. I'd say the odds are pretty long against any qualitative change in the difference between volcanic and anthropic CO2 contributions to the atmosphere ..

"This seems like a huge amount of CO2, but a visit to the U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) website (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/) helps anyone armed with a handheld calculator and a high school chemistry text put the volcanic CO2 tally into perspective. Because while 200 million tonnes of CO2 is large, the global fossil fuel CO2 emissions for 2003 tipped the scales at 26.8 billion tonnes. Thus, not only does volcanic CO2 not dwarf that of human activity, it actually comprises less than 1 percent of that value."

(from http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov)

.. like maybe ten to one.

Feb 05, 2015
Seafloor volcano pulses may alter climate


It goes without saying. Orders of magnitude greater output of "greenhouse" gases than all of mankind's activities..

Feb 05, 2015
Well hey,at least we can't be blamed for that one,right? Right??

Feb 05, 2015
2014-12-15
Mechanics of sea level increase and increase in earthquake and volcanic activity. Japanese data shows decoupling and acceleration for tectonic movement. Basically reduction in static friction.
What is happening is two overlapping plate with high pressure moving toward each other. Basically Japan on top and pacific ocean floor as bottom plate. As sea rises, pacific plate get push down and less pressure upward pressure from pacific plate thus less static friction and faster movement.
Picture this by placing two open hand in front of you face down and left hand fingers on top of right hand nails and apply pressure which will resist hands moving toward each other inward, imagine some force that places right hand down, it will make inward movement easier.

As for volcanic activity in Hawaii. It is like a water bed(plastic case being pacific plate) with hole. When more pressure from higher water level squeeze lava from a hole(water from water bed).

Feb 07, 2015
Continental drift over geologic time scales produces the potential for enormous climate change. Antarctica wasn't always centered on the South Pole. there was a time when the South Pole was open ocean with nearby continents, similar to the North Pole now, and ocean currents would have been drastically different, with total land ice being much less. Moreover you'd expect less total ice assuming the same solar conditions if the land isn't centered on the pole, because much of the ice in Antarctica is actually produced and maintained through it's high altitude.

The atlantic would have been narrower, and the pacific would have been wider, and the Hymalayas woudln't have been there yet, etc.

You better bet that would make drastic differences for every continent on Earth, even given the otherwise same solar conditions and same CO2 conditions. In fact, that continental change probably was a major driver in the CO2 differences between then and now.

Feb 07, 2015
By the way, if Uncle Ira posts here:

See? I wasn't banned. I actually forgot which email address I used to create this account, but I had thought I had forgotten the password, instead try the other email and I remembered the password correctly, so I was not lying to you, and the fact I made these two posts proves I wasn't lying.

Apparently I got banned on the new account for opposing the religion of Islam, as I don't see any other deleted posts from Moderator action.


Ulg
Feb 07, 2015

It's probably a little too early to gloat, SR. I'd say the odds are pretty long against any qualitative change in the difference between volcanic and anthropic CO2 contributions to the atmosphere ..

"This seems like a huge amount of CO2, but a visit to the U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) website (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/)

.. like maybe ten to one.

True if the assumption is correct that CO2 is the only way volcanos can affect the climate. It certainly is not though.

Feb 07, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Feb 08, 2015
While this paper is of interest, more is yet to come. Watch for it.

Feb 08, 2015
To all those who said that it was not possible that undersea volcanoes could possibly contribute to warming the planet: Told you so. :-)
No one claimed that, but nice deflection.
Liar. You did, here: http://phys.org/n...fic.html

"No its not, totally off base there." - Maggnus

And runrig did here: http://phys.org/n...ion.html

"Volcanism is transient and not a driver." -runrig


Feb 08, 2015
Liar. You did, here: http://phys.org/n...fic.html
"No its not, totally off base there." - Maggnus
Interesting, the ubermoron is now cherry picking comments I have made, presenting them out of context and then claiming that I am lying! Hilarious.

The comment "No its not., totally off base there" was a direct response to a comment "It is responsible for El Nino, after tall," which was a part of a comment that suggested that mid-oceans ridges were responsible for El Ninos. It had nothing, at all, to do with whether or not CO2 was being added to the atmosphere at mid-ocean ridges.

So, who is the liar? Hey ubermoron - that was a rhetorical question. And because you don't understand subtly, it means you are a liar.

Feb 08, 2015
And, in fear of belaboring the point, I also said in that same post - in fact, right above the comment the ubermoron took out of context;
It is? How so? Do you mean more than just the normal amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere by the planet at this and every other mid-ocean ridge on the planet?
This just to point out the depth of the lie from the ubermoron - not only have I spoken to CO2 coming from mid-ocean ridges, I have spoken directly to the fact that while they add CO2 they are not responsible for adding enough to affect our planet at this time.

Feb 08, 2015
As to this:
And runrig did here: http://phys.org/n...ion.html

"Volcanism is transient and not a driver." -runrig
putting the comment back into context, what runrig actually said was:
I was applying the truth of there being NO climate driver within the Earth NOW.
Of itself. **snip** Volcanism is transient and not a driver.
Neither is geothermal, though yes in the past.
Runrig was discussing a posters comment that volcanism was responsible for the warming we are seeing today. He was explaining that volcanism is not responsible for warming today, that volcanism from the planet is not strong enough to have that effect today, but that doesn't mean it didn't in the past.

And so, once again, the ubermoron is taking comments out of context in order to lie about what was being said.

The ubermoron; a lying, deceitful liar. And a moron.

Feb 08, 2015
The volcanoes are likely warming the oceans too. ; \

I have spoken directly to the fact that while they add CO2 they are not responsible for adding enough to affect our planet at this time.


"Volcanism is transient and not a driver." -runrig


Which according to above, you are both wrong.

Feb 08, 2015
BTW, why are the UN and the elitists (and the media they control) so hell bent on AGW propagangda?

Bill Gates will tell you why...

http://www.hangth...ernment/

Feb 09, 2015
The comment "No its not., totally off base there" was a direct response to a comment "It is responsible for El Nino, after tall," which was a part of a comment that suggested that mid-oceans ridges were responsible for El Ninos. It had nothing, at all, to do with whether or not CO2 was being added to the atmosphere at mid-ocean ridges.
That was just a snippet so the comment could easily be found. The full context does indeed dismiss the concept of additional CO2 from underwater volcanism. The first part, especially:

"It is? How so? Do you mean more than just the normal amount of CO2 aded to the atmosphere by the planet at this and every other
mid-ocean ridge on the planet?" - Maggnus.

Plus, you said, No one claimed that." and i clearly indicated another, and the threads I referred to include other AGWites denying this possibility, as well.

So, who is lying now?


Feb 09, 2015
And, in fear of belaboring the point, I also said in that same post - in fact, right above the comment the ubermoron took out of context;
It is? How so? Do you mean more than just the normal amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere by the planet at this and every other mid-ocean ridge on the planet?
not only have I spoken to CO2 coming from mid-ocean ridges, I have spoken directly to the fact that while they add CO2 they are not responsible for adding enough to affect our planet at this time.
Which is the opposite claim of this article, moron.


Feb 09, 2015
As to this:
And runrig did here: http://phys.org/n...ion.html

"Volcanism is transient and not a driver." -runrig
putting the comment back into context, what runrig actually said was:
I was applying the truth of there being NO climate driver within the Earth NOW.
Of itself. **snip** Volcanism is transient and not a driver.
Neither is geothermal, though yes in the past.
Runrig was discussing a posters comment that volcanism was responsible for the warming we are seeing today.
Another Maggnus lie. His reply was in regards to: "...looking outside of Earth for causes of rapid archaic climate change caused by impactors may be overlooking what is under our feet."

Note the use of the word, archaic.

And this current article is suggesting it could be contributing, today.

Maggnus = liar by rationalization


Feb 10, 2015
such eruptions wax and wane on regular schedules
This is particularly interesting finding for me, as I do believe, that the global warming is mostly of geothermal origin, not anthropogenic one. The fact that http://www.skepti...tent.gif supports this hypothesis well along with dozens of another indicia.


Zephyr and his magical fusion producing dark matter. I find it hilarious that he uses a graph outlining how heat energy is being transferred to the oceans to support his fantasy.

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