Sharkcano erupts! NASA satellite imagery captures a stream of discolored water emanating from the Kavachi volcano, where mutant sharks live in an acidic underwater crater
- Satellite images show a stream of discolored water emitted by Kavachi
- The data suggest volcanic activity over several days in April and May 2022
- Kavachi is called “sharkcano” because two species of sharks live there
- Scientists believe they mutated to survive in hot and acidic environments
By Sophie Curtis for Mailonline
Posted: 11:44 BST, May 23, 2022 | Updated: 11:45 BST, 23 May 2022
NASA has warned that an underwater volcano in the Solomon Islands – called a “canoe shark” because two species of sharks are known to live in the submerged crater – is erupting.
Satellite imagery shows a stream of discolored water emanating from the Kavachi volcano, located about 15 miles south of Wangun, on May 14.
The volcano entered an eruption phase in October 2021, according to the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program, and new satellite data suggests activity over several days in April and May 2022.
Previous research has shown that these jets of superheated, acidic water typically contain dust particles, fragments of volcanic rock and sulfur, according to NASA.
However, this should not be a problem for local sharks, which have adapted to grow in hot, acidic conditions.
NASA satellite imagery shows a stream of discolored water emanating from Kawachi Volcano, about 15 miles south of Wangun, on May 14.
Images from NASA’s Earth Observatory were taken by Joshua Stevens using data from the US Geological Survey’s Landsat
They discovered the power of underwater volcanoes
Explosive volcanic eruptions such as the one that devastated Tonga in January are not limited to shallow waters and could occur at a depth of “at least” one kilometer (1.6 miles), the study said.
Researchers at the University of Technology in Queensland (QUT) have found that underwater eruptions are much more powerful than previously thought, capable of firing volcanic rocks into the air at “supersonic” speeds in seconds.
QUT researcher Scott Brian said the presence of pink pumice in the water after a 2012 eruption in the South Pacific in 900 meters below sea level was crucial to the study.
“Previous research has shown that magma gently emerges from the seabed and that deep underwater eruptions cannot be explosive,” Prof. Brian told AAP.
“But our research shows that Le Havre was so powerful that he was able to pierce nearly a mile of ocean water to inject hot pumice into the air to oxidize and get that color.”
A 2015 scientific expedition to the Kavachi volcano discovered two species of sharks – including a hammerhead and a silk shark – living in the submerged crater.
Researchers also found six-winged stingrays, fish, jellyfish and microbial communities that thrive on sulfur.
The presence of sharks has raised “new questions about the ecology of active underwater volcanoes and the extreme environments in which large marine animals may exist,” the researchers wrote in a 2016 article, “Shark Research.”
They believe that sharks must have mutated to survive in hot and acidic environments.
“These large animals live in what you have to assume is much hotter and much more acidic water,” ocean engineer Brennan Phillips told National Geographic at the time.
“This makes you wonder what type of extreme environment these animals are adapted to. What changes have they undergone? Are there only certain animals that can withstand it?
Kavachi is one of the most active underwater volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean and is also called Rejo te Kvachi, which means Kavachi’s oven.
The first information about his activity was recorded in 1939.
There have been at least 11 significant eruptions since the late 1970s, and two – in 1976 and 1991 – were so powerful that they created new islands.
However, these islands were not large enough to withstand erosion and were eventually submerged.
Kawachi Volcano is what is known as a shallow underwater volcano off the coast of Wangun. It is one of the most active underwater volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean and is also called Rejo te Kvachi, which means Kawachi’s oven. The first reports of its activities were recorded in 1939. It can be seen that it erupted in 2000.
The top of the volcano is currently estimated at 65 feet (20 meters) below sea level; its base lies on the seabed at a depth of 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers).
Frequent shallow underwater eruptions sometimes pierce the surface, emitting jets of steam, ash, fragments of volcanic rocks and incandescent “bombs” over the surface.
The news comes after a huge eruption from the Tonga-Hongga Haapai submarine volcano in Tonga unleashed explosive forces equivalent to up to 30 million tonnes of TNT – hundreds of times more than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
The volcano ejected debris up to 25 miles into the atmosphere when it erupted on January 15.
It caused a magnitude 7.4 earthquake, sending tsunami waves that hit the island, leaving it covered in ash and torn from outside aid.
Radar surveys before and after the eruption this month show that only small parts of Tonga’s two islands above the volcano, the Tonga and the Haapai Hung, remain.
Tonga’s underwater volcanic eruption in January was as powerful as Krakatoa’s in 1883.
The volcanic eruption of Tonga in January caused the strongest recorded volcanic waves since the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, scientists say.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, an underwater volcano in the South Pacific, created sound waves heard as far back as Alaska at 6,200 miles when it erupted on January 15.
Researchers say the eruption was “on par” with Krakatoa and is the largest explosion ever recorded by modern geophysical equipment.
It was significantly larger than any test of an atmospheric nuclear bomb, meteor explosion and volcanic eruption in history, including Mount St. Helens in 1980 and Pinatubo in 1991.
The barometer shows that the volcano produced a pressure wave that orbited the world four times in six days – about the same as in Krakatoa.