Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Evidence Of Recent Undersea Eruption Off NZ Coast

MEDIA RELEASE from GNS Science,
12 MARCH 2009

Scientists Find Evidence Of Recent Undersea Eruption


Click for big version
Bathymetic map of Rumble II West volcano

Click for big version
Location of Rumble II West volcano


Scientists have returned from exploring three submarine volcanoes in the Kermadec Arc where they found evidence of a recent large eruption at one of the volcanoes.

While mapping the Rumble III volcano, they found a marked change in the shape of the summit. A map made in 2007 showed an 800m-wide crater near the top of the submarine volcano.

The new map shows the crater has been filled and the nearby summit cone has been reduced in height by about 100m.

"This suggests there has been a major eruption that collapsed the summit cone and filled the adjacent crater," said Co-Chief Scientist on the voyage Cornel de Ronde of GNS Science.

Images taken by an underwater camera towed by the research ship show strewn lava boulders covered by black volcanic ash near the summit of the volcano, Dr de Ronde said. Rumble III volcano is about 350km northeast of the Bay of Plenty and sits at a depth of 1.4km.

The eruption is consistent with the fact that a number of the 90 submarine volcanoes along the Kermadec Arc are highly active. Some of the volcanoes along this 2000km underwater volcanic chain are as big as Mt Ruapehu.

The Kermadec Arc runs northeast of New Zealand between the Bay of Plenty and Tonga.

The two-week voyage, a joint United States and New Zealand project, ends today with the ship berthing in Auckland. The ship, R/V Thomas G Thompson, is one of America's top ocean-going research ships and is owned and operated by the University of Washington.

The purpose of the voyage was to enable 13 final-year oceanographic students from the University of Washington and four students from Southampton University in England to complete their theses. It also offered the opportunity for scientists from the US and New Zealand to gather fresh information on submarine volcanoes.

At Brothers volcano, underwater equipment towed by the ship showed vigorous hydrothermal venting expelling high-temperature, mineral-rich plumes into the ocean.

At another site at Brothers, lower temperature acidic fluids were venting into the ocean. Areas around this vent were covered in dense accumulations of long-neck barnacles.

Expedition leader, Professor Rick Keil of the University of Washington, described the voyage as the opportunity of a lifetime for him and his students to carry out research with colleagues from GNS Science.

"Unlike classroom teaching, this voyage was the real deal."

A marine biologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Timothy Shank, said he had been to more than 30 hydrothermal vent sites around the world and had not seen long-neck barnacles as dense or numerous as those at Brothers volcano.

"The question is, how do these animals manage to thrive in this incredibly extreme environment? New Zealand scientists are lucky having this wonderful natural environment right in their backyard."

A marine geologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US, Dan Fornari, said the voyage gave the students experience in using a state-of-the-art fibre optic deep-sea imaging system.

"It is a Jules Vernian experience to traverse the ocean floor and see first-hand things that people have never seen before. There's nothing like that to motivate a student," Dr Fornari said.

Dr de Ronde said a highlight of the voyage was finding evidence of a catastrophic collapse at the summit of Rumble III volcano.

The voyage underlined the fact that Kermadec Arc contained some of the most spectacular undersea volcanoes in the world.

"As well as that, some of these volcanoes are highly accessible as their summits come within a few hundred metres of the sea surface. At most other places in the world, submarine volcanoes are in deeper water."

Go here for a voyage blog by GNS Science researcher Heidi Berkenbosch: http://data.gns.cri.nz/hazardwatch/gsblogs/heidi.html

Link to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution underwater tow-cam website: http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=17619

Above Images: A location graphic and a new bathymetic map of Rumble II West volcano made during the voyage. Rumble II West is a large conical volcano sitting at 1.4km depth.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Media: Julian Wilcox Leaves Māori TV

Māori Television has confirmed the resignation of Head of News and Production Julian Wilcox. Mr Maxwell acknowledged Mr Wilcox’s significant contribution to Māori Television since joining the organisation in 2004. More>>

ALSO:

Genetics: New Heat Tolerant Cow Developed

Hamilton, New Zealand-based Dairy Solutionz Ltd has led an expert genetics team to develop a new dairy cow breed conditioned to thrive in lower elevation tropical climates and achieve high milk production under heat stress. More>>

Fractals: Thousands More Business Cards Needed To Build Giant Sponge

New Zealand is taking part in a global event this weekend to build a Menger Sponge using 15 million business cards but local organisers say they are thousands of business cards short. More>>

Scoop Business: NZ Net Migration Rises To Annual Record In September

New Zealand’s annual net migration rose to a record in September, beating government forecasts, as the inflow was spurred by student arrivals from India and Kiwis returning home from Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Fletcher To Close Its Christchurch Insulation Plant, Cut 29 Jobs

Fletcher Building, New Zealand’s largest listed company, will close its Christchurch insulation factory, as it consolidates its Tasman Insulations operations in a “highly competitive market”. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Novartis Adds Nine New Treatments Under Pharmac Deal

Novartis New Zealand, the local unit of the global pharmaceuticals firm, has added nine new treatments in a far-ranging agreement with government drug buying agency, Pharmac. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Wary On Tax Take, Could Threaten Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning the tax take may come in below forecast in the current financial year, as figures released today confirm it was short by nearly $1 billion in the year to June 30 and English warned of the potential impact of slumping receipts from agricultural exports. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand

Mosh Social Media
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news