Earth Science In the News: A Hum Foretells a New Volcano?

Underwater volcano releasing liquid droplets of carbon dioxide, near the Galápagos Islands. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Jim Brace-Thompson

Deep within the Indian Ocean, scientists worldwide detected a so-called “seismic hum.”

A recent study suggests the mysterious hum was linked to a new chamber filling with magma—a chamber that resulted in the birth of a new underwater volcano near the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte between Madagascar and Mozambique.

Series of Seismic Activity

Starting in May 2018, a swarm of thousands of earthquakes began in this region, including one as large as magnitude 5.9. These were accompanied by a lowering of the Earth’s surface near Mayotte and what some described as the hum of “a large bell or a double bass.”

A research team led by scientist Simone Cesca has been monitoring these events, and a French oceanographic team recently confirmed the birth of a submarine volcano.

Scientists fear that as the volcano erupts some 3 kilometers below the ocean surface, there could be significant hazards to areas above the ocean, with earthquakes possibly hitting the island of Mayotte as the underground/underwater magma chamber empties and collapses.


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