For now, we just can’t catch the energy they generate. However, powerful eruptions can help explain how life on Earth evolved.
Volcanic eruptions are one of the most spectacular phenomena on Earth – we associate them with volcanic eruptions and rising ash worms. Although many land-based eruptions have made history, much of the volcanic activity on our planet takes place under the oceans.
Underwater eruptions are more enjoyable than coastal eruptions. The energy they emit is so powerful that it heals everything Continents. This was recently announced by a team of volcanic experts at the University of Leeds at Nature Communications.
The formation and dynamics of these mega volcanoes, as well as their impact on the environment, have fascinated scientists for many years. However, studying these phenomena is very challenging because of the eruptions in the most inaccessible parts of our planet.
Power that no one could have imagined
To overcome this obstacle, volcanologists at the University of Leeds, Sam Beckler and David Ferguson used real observations and mathematical simulations. The team relied on data collected by another group of scientists who studied the volcanic flow in the Pacific Northeast, and published their findings in 2009 in the journal Volcano and Geothermal Research. Studies conducted at the time suggest that the mouth of the underwater volcano heats up seawater, creating “blooms” that carry volcanic rock fragments and small particles called pyroclastic material up to 5 km from the eruption site.
Based on the research of their predecessors, Beckler and Ferguson sought to show that the motion of the pyroclastic material in these blooms could be “used to determine the energy dissipation rate associated with volcanic eruptions”. In other words, scientists have developed a model that estimates the amount of energy released by an explosion at sea. Their findings are astounding – this single explosion created the impetus for energy that could easily meet the energy needs of the entire United States.
However, this comparison is only a metaphor. At the current stage of technological development, there is no way to connect to this underwater energy source. Eventually, preliminary studies confirmed that such events were temporary and that humans could not realize their potential.
Underwater eruptions and life at sea
The energy arising from the underwater explosion is only one side of the coin. Scientists already know that we can not use it, but that does not mean that their discovery is irrelevant.
At depth the researchers also began to study how these mysterious phenomena affect the temperature and chemical composition of the underwater environment. Because the oceans are home to a wide variety of organisms, these eruptions can shape life in the oceans in ways that have not yet been fully explored.
“Deep-sea life is prolonged – in the complete absence of sunlight and other nutrients – by the energy and chemicals provided by volcanic activity,” Ferguson explains. In addition to discovering unexpected life around pentic hydrothermal vents, scientists have discovered a wide variety of microorganisms in the solid ocean surface.
“Our results suggest that they are energized by volcanic activity. Many biologists believe that life on Earth originated in an environment similar to deep-sea water heating systems,” says Ferguson.
Volcanoes are not the only ones heating the water in the oceans
Beckler and Ferguson argue that these energetic eruptions could not have been driven solely by the eruption of molten volcanoes from fissures in the Earth’s crust at sea. They believe that during an eruption, pockets of hot liquids can also escape from the Earth’s crust, which has a direct impact on the enormous force of underwater blooms.
“Our conclusion suggests that these eruptions involve a tremendous amount of heat transfer to the ocean, and that much of that heat may come from the violent outlet of hot surface fluids,” Ferguson explains. He adds that more research is needed to clarify the role of volcanic gases in the whole process.
Source: Nature Communications.
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