Ancient Volcanic Explosion Discovered Beneath the Caribbean Sea

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    Geological deposits beneath the Caribbean Sea help researchers predict future eruptions.

    The University of Southampton recently published the discovery of large scale volcanic activity off the coast of Guadeloupe.

    According to sediment cores recovered by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition, this particular volcano produced an eruption that would have measured a 6 on the contemporary Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). By comparison, no eruption from the nearby Montserrat volcano has surpassed a VEI 3-4 for over 20 years.

    Implications for Neighboring Islands

    [quote_box_right]Learn about Costa Rica’s six major volcanoes: Seismic Spirits in the Land Of Pura Vida.[/quote_box_right]

    According to Professor Martin Palmer, “Volcanic eruptions are relatively common in this area of world, but while they are very disruptive for the local community… they do not generally have a major impact on neighboring islands.” Palmer goes on to explain that while an eruption such as that found recently could be a definite hazard to “human populations in the wider region,” there is currently no evidence to suggest a similar eruption is upcoming.

    That’s not to say, however, that this information is not of importance to the surrounding area. According to the report:

    [quote_center]“Reconstructing the history of island arc volcanoes is critical for determining their petrological evolution and potential geo-hazards, but such studies are difficult because erosion and later eruptions destroy and obscure [evidence].”[/quote_center]

    Oceanic core samples, like the one used in Southampton’s research, offer a uniquely complete opportunity to observe the preceding conditions to a volcanic event since the land has by and large been protected from weather which causes erosion.

    Additional Information

    This project was funded by both IODP and the Natural Environment Research Council.

    The full report is open access and can be found via this link.

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