Friday, 19 August 2011

Success in predicting an underwater eruption

Being able to predict any form of natural hazards is an achievement and, for the first time, scientist have successful managed to predict an underwater eruption.

What does the aftermath of an underwater volcanic eruption look like? Well, if you have just watched the above clip you will have noticed that vents are releasing cloudy water months after the blast and the seafloor is covered in hardened lava.

When scientists found this sight, they were not at all surprised by it as they had forecast this event, making it the first successful prediction of an undersea volcanic eruption.  Axial Seamount, off of the Oregon coast, has been discovered to behave in a more predicatable manner than previously thought, and than most other volcanoes. The reason for this is believed to be due to its robust magma supply, accompanied with a thin crust, and location on a mid-ocan ridge spreading centre.

When the volcano last erupted in 1998, the bottom of the crater subsided as magma moved upwards. The team predicted that it would erupt again once it attained the same level again. Based on a series of pressure measurements that showed the volcano was inflating, they forecast that this would happen before 2014. It is believed that the volcano erupted on the 6th April this year. Scientist were able to generate this prediction as it is the only volcano on the seafloor whose surface deformation has been continuously monitored throughout an entire eruption cycle.

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