Send us your questions with email to: VentsProgramAtSea@gmail.com
(Please identify your school in the email-thanks!)
Apart from the tectonic plates' separation at Axial, and its magma hotspot, is there another reason you chose to go to Axial?
One of the exciting things about Axial Seamount is that it is an active
volcano - one of the most active submarine volcanoes on Earth.
Axial is also relatively easy to access because it's close to shore- it
only takes a day to get to so we can return regularly and get time
series data to monitor it's activity, which we've done since the early
1980's. As part of the Ocean Observatory Initiative of the NSF, Axial
Seamount is going to be a site of intense focus for years to come, and
data we've collected over the past decades will help contribute to that
Thanks for your question!
Why is an underwater volcano so different from one that is above water?
Thanks for your great question. There are several differences between submarine and terrestrial volcanoes- one aspect is that when you study a submarine volcano, it takes a lot of effort to visit the volcano because we can only actually see the volcano and it's lava flows and other features when we send a camera to the ocean floor, usually with a submersible like ROV Jason or HOV Alvin. This takes a lot more planning than visiting some terrestrial volcanoes - some of which you can even drive to!
Even with a submersible, it's sometimes hard to visualize the entire volcano if it's under the ocean because it's so dark, that photos can really only show the view that is visible within the lights of the submersible. So we have to use maps based on bathymetric data to visualize the volcano (like the map on the front page of the blog).
Generally, submarine volcanoes tend to be shield volcanoes, much like Hawaiian volcanoes such as Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Ohter volcanoes on the continents can be composite volcanoes that have much steeper slopes (like Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier).
Thanks again for your question!