News Archive

posted 05/06/04

Marine Scientists Discover New Undersea Volcano in Antarctica

Water depth data (shown in above graph) provided by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientist Gerd Krahmann helped confirm the existence of an undersea volcano neart the northern-most tip of the Antarctic continent. The red and yellow areas indicate shallower water.

After careful examination of data, an international team of scientists confirmed yesterday the existence of a major undersea volcano on the seafloor of the Antarctic Sound, near the northern-most tip of Antarctica. Scientists announced their discovery yesterday from the Research Vessel L. M. Gould which has been struggling through ice-covered seas in the Antarctic. The team is led by Hamilton College's Eugene Domack and includes Gerd Krahmann from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. (Krahmann is part of the CORC/ARCHES expedition and has written about this trip in his Reports From the Field.)

The yet-unnamed volcano is significant in that it exists on a continental shelf (in this case, on the edge of the Antarctic continental mass) and in the vicinity of a deep trough across the seafloor carved out by past glacial expansion.

The volcano stands 700 meters above the seafloor and extends to within 275 meters of sea level. It contains at least 1.5 km3 of volcanic rock.

The presence of the volcano was first suggested by swath maps of the seafloor in January, 2002. But it was not until this April that scientists supported by the US National Science Foundation once again gained access to the region.

The group conducted a careful survey of the volcano that included a bottom scanning video recorder, rock dredges, and temperature surveys along the sides and crest of the submarine peak.

These observations, along with historical reports from mariners of discolored water in the vicinity of the submerged peak, indicate that the volcano is relatively young and has been active recently.

Members of the science team include: Dr. Eugene Domack, (Chief Scientist) Hamilton College; Dr. Stefanie Brachfeld, Montclair State University; Dr. Scott Ishman, Southern Illinois University; Dr. Amy Levener, Colgate University; Dr. Gerd Krahmann, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University; Dr. Robert Gilbert, Queens University, Canada.

Related Sites:

National Science Foundation Press Release, May 20 2004
Scientists Discover Undersea Volcano Off Antarctica

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