May 6, 2009
--A deep-sea volcano
that was initially observed erupting in 2004—a first
—is continuously spewing lava and highly acidic molten sulfur (as seen in this April 2009 picture), the U.S. National Science Foundation announced on May 5.
An underwater "microphone" installed in 2008 near the Pacific volcano NW Rota-1 in the Northern Mariana Islands (map
), near Guam, has consistently picked up sounds of volcanic activity, and an April 2009 expedition witnessed the explosions.
Between 2006 and 2009, the volcano also expanded 131 feet (40 meters) in height and 984 feet (300 meters) in width—about as tall as a 12-story building and as wide as a city block, said project chief investigator Bill Chadwick, an Oregon State University volcanologist.
(Related: "Giant Undersea Volcano Found Off Iceland"
"It is unusual for a volcano to be continuously active, even on land," Chadwick said in a statement. "This presents us with a fantastic opportunity to learn about processes that we've never been able to directly observe before."
Photograph courtesy WHOI