Smithsonian Institute/RNZ Global Volcanism Program
A map shows some of the underwater volcanoes around American Samoa.
Emergency operations personnel remain on high alert in American Samoa due to intense underwater volcano activity.
The territory’s emergency operations center was activated in response to reports from Ta’u and Ofu islanders of the Manu’a group of earthquakes.
The first tremors were reported at 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday and the last at 11 p.m. the same day.
Residents of Ofu said they saw the ocean recede and bells rang to alert people.
Manu’a representative Tiaoalii Sai, who is in Hawaii, said his brother-in-law in Ofu told him that people started moving towards the road to the mountains after the bells rang.
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He said some people had ignored instructions that faith in God would protect them.
Sai said several hours later people returned home after checking with Homeland Security that it was safe to do so.
The tremor centers on Vailulu’u, an unpredictable and highly active underwater volcano located between Ta’u and Rose Atoll.
Ta’u emergency operations center manager Tupuola Lualemaga said they hadn’t felt any tremors since the initial tremor.
“We got calls yesterday but last night we got no calls, we didn’t evacuate anyone because…we got a warning call from Homeland Security…and we took action but we didn’t. we did not evacuate.”
Map the volcanic area
In early 2017, a NOAA expedition to American Samoa: Suesuega o le Moana o Amerika Samoa, explored Vailulu’u Seamount and discovered an active volcano located in the eastern region of the Samoan hotspot.
The last visual survey of the volcano was in 2005, but the seamount had since been mapped.
Reports from the NOAA website indicate that a comparison of multibeam data collected in 2012 with new bathymetric data collected during this 2017 expedition, showed that the volcanic cone within the crater, called Nafanua, had increased significantly since the last mapping of the seamount in 2012, having formed two distinct volcanic features.
This volcano in the Samoan Islands rises 5 km above the sea floor. It is located east of Tau Island and is said to have recently emitted smog water from its summit.