French researchers map stunning growth of largest undersea eruption ever detected

French researchers map stunning growth of largest undersea eruption ever detected
File: Undersea volcano erupts in South Pacific, 2009. (Image: Screen grab of NOAA video via Discovery, YouTube)

[Ed. – This is near the island of Mayotte, in the Comoros archipelago off East Africa in the Indian Ocean.  The seismic activity there has been off the charts for months.  The undersea eruption has basically thrust up an 800-meter (2500-foot) seamount in a period of 6 months.  Fascinating stuff.]

Marc Chaussidon, director of the Institute of Geophysics in Paris (IPGP) … along with scientists from the French national research agency CNRS and other institutes, had witnessed the birth of a mysterious submarine volcano, the largest such underwater event ever witnessed. “We have never seen anything like this,” says IPGP’s Nathalie Feuillet, leader of an expedition to the site by the research vessel Marion Dufresne, which released its initial results last week.

The quarter-million people living on the French island of Mayotte in the Comoros archipelago knew for months that something was happening. From the middle of last year they felt small earthquakes almost daily…

A serious scientific campaign started only in February, when Feuillet and her team placed six seismometers on the ocean bottom 3.5 kilometers down, close to the activity. …

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The map of the sea floor, made by [a] ship’s multibeam sonar, indicates that as much as 5 cubic kilometers of magma erupted onto the sea floor.

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