I live here on Ross Island this Volcano is in my back yard ... I haven't felt any earth quakes since I got here ,it is smoking but nothing significant
Photograph by George Steinmetz, Corbis
Published November 18, 2013
The finding, detailed in the current issue of Nature Geoscience, marks the first time that an active volcano has been discovered under the ice of the frozen continent. (Also see "Giant Undersea Volcanoes Found Off Antarctica.")
When it erupts—which no one can predict—the volcano "will create millions of gallons of water beneath the ice—many lakes full," study leader Doug Wiens, professor of earth and planetary science at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a statement.
This water will rush beneath the ice toward the sea and feed into one of the major ice streams that drain ice from Antarctica into the Ross Ice Shelf, Wiens explained.
The new volcano's discovery was accidental. In January 2010, scientists set up a series of seismometers, or earthquake detectors, on Marie Byrd Land, a highland region of West Antarctica.
The instruments array detected two swarms of earthquakes about one year apart, in 2010 and 2011. The earthquakes were small, with magnitudes of between 0.8 and 2.1.
The tremors occurred at depths of about 15 to 25 miles (25 to 40 kilometers), close to the boundary between the crust and the mantle, and much deeper than normal crustal earthquakes.
The depth at which the quakes occurred, as well as their low frequency, suggests they might be so-called Deep Long Period earthquakes, or DPLs, which occur in volcanic areas.
"People aren't really sure what causes DPLs," said Amanda Lough, a postdoctoral student in Wiens's lab and the first author of the study, said in a statement.
"It seems to vary by volcanic complex, but most people think it's the movement of magma and other fluids that leads to pressure-induced vibrations in cracks within volcanic and hydrothermal systems."
Why is the discovery important?
Lough and her team say it's not a matter of if the newly discovered volcano will erupt, but when. "It most likely has erupted before," Lough said. (Watch video: Volcanoes 101.)
That's because the volcano sits atop a raised portion of land that the team believes is composed of previously erupted material.
What would happen in an eruption?
The volcano is covered by more than half a mile (one kilometer) of ice, so it would have to be an extraordinarily powerful eruption to breach the surface.
However, the heat from the volcano could increase melting at the base of the glacier and meltwater could act like a lubricant that makes the overlying ice flow out to sea faster. Global sea levels could rise by a small amount as a result.
"We're not talking about an eruption causing the ice sheet to melt and cause catastrophic sea-level rise," Lough told National Geographic.
"This volcanic complex has been operating for millions of years ... There have been past eruptions of this system and the ice has survived for millions of years, [so] future eruptions alone will not cause the ice sheet to fail."
Most of the seismometers used to discover the volcano have been removed and installed in other areas in Antarctica, so further study of its seismic activity is no longer possible.
But Lough said she hopes scientists will continue to study the volcano using other instruments.
"I'm really excited because this paper has stirred up a lot of interest in the glaciology community," she said, "and hopefully someone there will take up the challenge to answer the questions of what are the possible outcomes."
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Interesting news item. I wonder, whether this volcanic action is due to the plate movements? The picture is awesome. Thank you for sharing.
I do understand idea of water cause some of the Continents going partly or all under water beside that what other things could it cause?
Since we know that scientist has study and know there Volcanoes under some bodies of water. We also know that all Continents was once all connect. We also know that Trench and Earthquakes shift and push new Islands to surfaces in different areas of the Planet. I guess my question would be what be possible of it causing massive Earthquake and how much damage could it cause? Would it or could it send a chain reaction to other Earthquakes?
How many Volcanoes does that make us have now ? Could there be more?
Could this be the Volcanoe that help cause Ice Age?
Loving how the climate science deniers are, as usual, twisting the information presented and the intent of this article to advance their agenda.
Very interesting article! Although Amanda Lough feels that the impact won't be "catastrophic," I feel it can be. The impact of the previous eruptions from millions of years may not have caused the ice sheets to fail but, I feel the circumstances today are different. Today there is a greater amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causing the greenhouse effect to melt ice prior to any eruptions. Since the ice's stability has been compromised due to these gases and increased temperatures, I feel that these recent eruptions yet to come can cause the ice sheets to fail. I highly support further research and exploring on this topic because Earth has such a complex system. Any change such as a rise in global sea levels can lead to many other problems that we may not even be aware of.
See, another way of proving that we have no idea what's going on with climate change. I mean, this is just another way of showing that Earth is going through(I think anyways) possibly a historical pattern never recorded before. Who knows? C:
Since the Eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, we have had hundreds of other volcanic eruptions that have not doomed mankind. I love science, but I hate using science to sell books and advance political agendas. Maybe someone could determine why volcanic eruptions do not cause permanent damage to the atmosphere. I agree that heavy industry has caused unnecessary damage to our earth; look into how the earth cleans itself and determine how to manage our waste better. make our waste easier for the environment to absorb?
Nuclear energy science, to my knowledge, has not found a safe way to eliminate the waste and continues to say how clean and safe it is....
I wonder what impact this discovery has on all the findings related to Climate Change and its currently assumed source...
Millions of gallon of water? Oh NO! thats enough to raise sea levels BY OMG!!! no detectable amount...
In other news Nat Geo warns of east coast flooding brought about by young boy peeing in Hudson.
Have any names been proposed for the new volcano?Chaos in Greek mythology was the father of Erebus and was supplanted by him.
@Sudharma Daine Antarctica lies in the middle of the Antarctic plate where no major plate boundary exists. The volcano is most likely a hot spot volcano, the likes of which exist in the interior of plates, with a direct magma source tapping directly to the mantle. In saying that however, the volcano could also be the result of rifting of the west antarctic region (which we know has occurred in the past). However very little is known about the tectonics of the Antarctic landmass itself because of the overlying ice. It will be very interesting to see what happens :)
@Windy Bolton No, to my knowledge neither of those scenarios are possible with this volcano. One would need atleast a super-volcano like that beneath Yellowstone Nat. Park to produce any possible effects on other seismic systems elsewhere.
@Raees M. What are the circumstances that differ today from 2 thousand years ago? Out of curiosity.
@Raees M. i second your opinion
@Julian Benedict I do agree with you about human activities. But we can't ignore the volcano. If it erupts there will be a complete disaster
@H. Hale Like Al Gore right!!!!!!!
@Swiftright Right You miss the point. The millions of gallons of water will act as a lubricant for the ice overheady, moving it more quickly into the seas around antarctica. This could contribute to measurable see level increases.
@robert brooke I vote for Mendacium
Just do some simple off hand math. 6 inches of water spread over 1 square mile is over 200 million gallons. even if 1 square mile worth of ice magically slid into the ocean it still would have no perceptible change on sea levels.
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