WHOI Researchers Help Take Closer Look of Rare Underwater Eruption

WOODS HOLE – A new paper recently published in the journal “Science Advances” highlights the first up-close investigation of the largest underwater volcanic eruption of the past century.

The Havre volcano erupted on the seafloor northeast of New Zealand in 2012.

An international research team led by the University of Tasmania and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution used the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry and the remotely operated vehicle Jason to explore, map and collect erupted materials during a 2015 expedition.

AUV Sentry was deployed in a series of 11 dives that mapped more than 19 miles of seafloor and 12 ROV Jason dives were conducted totaling 250 hours to collect samples and capture high-resolution imagery inside the crater.

The team found the eruption history was more complicated than previously thought.

The most recent eruption consisted of lava from 14 vent sites.

They though an initial explosive eruption would have produced mainly pumice, but it also created ash, lava domes and seafloor lava flows.

Mapping also revealed that the erupted material was nearly 1.5 times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Researchers believe that none of the magma was erupted in the ways explosive eruptions occur on land.

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