Undersea Eruptions Led to Massive Landslide

(Illustration: Santiago Uceda)

An erupting undersea volcano near Guam in the western Pacific continues to reshape the seafloor. In March 2010, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and OSU led another in a series of expeditions to NW Rota-1 in the Mariana Arc. Eruptions have been practically continuous since first discovered in 2003, says Bill Chadwick, chief scientist for the project.

In August 2009, intense volcanic activity culminated in a dramatic landslide that extended up to five miles from the top of the mountain. Instruments deployed to monitor volcano activity were destroyed by the avalanche. A hydrophone survived intact and recorded the event, which lasted for five to six hours. The volume of material that slid off the mountain would have filled about 250,000 railroad boxcars, says Chadwick.

Chadwick presented expedition results at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in December  2010.

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