Researchers have found that underwater eruptions are far more powerful than originally thought and can blast volcanic rocks through the air at “supersonic speeds” in just seconds.
Last month, the Hunga Tonga Hunga Haapai volcano made global headlines, but underwater eruptions were still vastly underestimated.
Pink pumice as evidence of a larger eruption?
According to the Brisbane Times, the gorgeous pink hue shown by pumice from underwater volcanoes gave scientists a clear signal that it may have exploded with even greater force than recent volcanic eruptions in Tonga.
Le Havre Seamount is a volcano located 900 meters above sea level in the southwestern Pacific Ocean and about 1200 kilometers south of Hunga Tonga and erupted in January.
Scientists have been intrigued by the incidence of pink pumice in the massive pumice raft that resulted from the 2012 deep-sea eruption of Le Havre, led by scientist Professor Scott Bryan, Dr Michael Jones and Ph.D. candidate Joseph Knafelc, of Queensland University of Technology. According to Sciencedaily.
Having studied pumice rafts for more than 20 years, Professor Bryan said pink pumice produced during the 2012 eruption in Le Havre helped uncover how magma can erupt from underwater volcanoes .
“It must have erupted with enough force to cut through nearly a kilometer of seawater and send that plume of material into the sky above,” unlike Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai, Le Havre is a long way off. Its summit is 900 meters below sea level, and the nearest settlement on New Zealand’s North Island is about 800 km away. Professor Bryan added. According to Brisbane Times.
Read more: The eruption of the Taal volcano in the Philippines forces thousands to flee
The pumice rafts from the eruption of the Le Havre volcano
(Photo: Alain Bonnardeaux/Unsplash)
Another volcanic hazard caused by gas-soaked pumice stones is pumice rafts. They require that part of the blowout be in water and that the blowout be visibly saturated with gas and water.
Like most volcanic creatures, they also have beneficial effects on flora and fauna, allowing them to spread as winds and currents travel thousands of miles. According to Volcanhotspot. They also allow species to spread into isolated island ecosystems.
According to Radio New Zealand, there are two main types of volcanic eruptions: explosive and effusive. The term “explosion” is self-explanatory, but “effusive” means lava flowing steadily from the vent.
An international team of geologists studying the Le Havre eruption is trying to determine what type of eruption it is and so far has two conflicting sets of evidence.
According to Brisbane Times, Prof Bryan said the new information should be taken seriously as there are a number of underwater volcanoes like what happened in Le Havre with more explosive potential. He also added that in terms of marine hazards it will be quite rare but because the eruptions discovered can be explosive and if shipping was in the wrong place at the wrong time it will be more dangerous and it will have a serious threat.
Read also: A massive new volcano emerges following the largest underwater eruption
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