Massive Undersea Volcano Discovered off Indonesia

Kawio-barat-map-100713-02 Scientists on a deep-sea expedition off the coast of Indonesia have discovered an underwater volcano that towers 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) above the ocean floor, yet remains far from sight beneath the water's surface.The volcano was discovered by a group of US and Indonesian researchers who are using a powerful sonar system and a robotic vehicle with high-definition video to explore marine ecosystems off Sulawesi island.

 "This is a huge undersea volcano, taller than all but three or four mountains in Indonesia," said Jim Holden, the chief US scientist for the first leg of the joint expedition.

The researchers hope the maps and video produced from the journey will pave the way for others to follow up on their preliminary findings.

"The more we understand these undersea features and the communities of life they support, the better we can manage and protect the ocean and its resources," said Holden, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Last May, the Antara news service reported the discovery of a volcano 4600 metres tall – half as tall again as Kawio Barat – on the sea floor off the west coast of Sumatra. Some geologists questioned the claim, pointing out that there had been no previous signs of volcanic activity in the area.

The current expedition, NOAA Ocean Explorer, is studying the deep ocean using powerful sonar and an underwater robot equipped with high-definition video, the Guardian notes.

AP reports that they have mapped 6200 square kilometres of seafloor in their first month, and will continue their voyage until 14 August.

The expedition concludes on 14 August.

Casey Kazan

Sources:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/12/huge-volcano-discovered-underwater-indonesia

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/07/huge-undersea-volcano-found-of.html

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