Wednesday August 15, 2018
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Largest Volcanic Region on Earth Discovered in Antarctica

"The big question is: how active are these volcanoes? That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible,"

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The largest volcanic region is below the ice sheets in west Antarctica
Largest volcanic region discovered in Antarctica. Pixabay
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  • The largest volcanic region on Earth has been discovered in west Antarctica 
  • The newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3,850 m
  • These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system

London, August 15, 2017: The largest volcanic region on Earth — with nearly 100 volcanoes — has been discovered two km below the surface of the vast ice sheet in west Antarctica.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Britain found a staggering 91 previously unknown volcanoes, adding to the 47 others that had been discovered over the previous century of exploring the region.

These newly discovered volcanoes range in height from 100 to 3,850 m, with the highest almost as tall as Switzerland’s 3,970-m Eiger mountain.

These active peaks are concentrated in a region known as the west Antarctic rift system — which stretches 3,500 km from Antarctica’s Ross ice shelf to the Antarctic peninsula.

According to geologists, this huge region is likely to dwarf east Africa’s volcanic ridge — currently rated as the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

ALSO READVenus could have active volcanoes, says research

However, the activity of this range could have worrying consequences, glacier expert Robert Bingham was quoted as saying to the Guardian.

“If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilise west Antarctica’s ice sheets,” Bingham warned.

“Anything that causes the melting of ice, which an eruption certainly would, is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea,” he said.

“The big question is: how active are these volcanoes? That is something we need to determine as quickly as possible,” he added.

The Edinburgh volcano survey, reported in the Geological Society’s special publications series, involved studying the underside of the west Antarctica ice sheet for hidden peaks of basalt rock similar to those produced by the region’s other volcanoes.

Presently, volcanism is seen in regions, including Iceland and Alaska, that have recently lost their glacier covering. The same could happen in west Antarctica, where significant warming in the region caused by climate change has begun to affect its ice sheets.

If they are reduced significantly, this could release pressure on the volcanoes that lie below and lead to eruptions that could further destabilise the ice sheets and enhance sea level rises that are already affecting our oceans, Bingham noted. (IANS)

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Hawaii Could Face Volcanic Smog, Acid Rain

An influx of groundwater could interact with the lava and create steam explosions, it added

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Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago.
Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago. Pixabay

Following the eruption of the Kilauea volcano, residents of Hawaii’s Big Island will now have to deal with steam-driven explosions, hazardous volcanic smog and acid rain, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has warned.

The USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Wednesday warned of possible explosive eruptions in the coming weeks because as the lava continues to sink in a lake inside a Kilauea crater, reports CNN.

An influx of groundwater could interact with the lava and create steam explosions, it added.

Those forces would emit “ballistic projectiles” — as small as pebbles or weighing up to several tonnes.

The USGS also said ash clouds would rise to greater elevations, dispensing ash over wider areas.

“At this time, we cannot say with certainty that explosive activity will occur, how large the explosions could be, or how long such explosive activity could continue,” an advisory said.

Representational image.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Governor David Ige has asked President Donald Trump to issue a disaster declaration for Hawaii as a result of the ongoing earthquakes and volcano eruption, according to a press release.

The declaration allows federal funds to begin to flow to state and local efforts in Hawaii.

The estimated cost to protect residents over the next 30 days is expected to exceed $2.9 million, according to the governor’s office.

A brief explosion on Wednesday on a Kilauea crater was the result of falling rocks and not the interaction of lava with the water table, the USGS said.

Also Read: Earthquake Then Volcano, There is No Relief For the Hawaii Residents

The Kilauea eruption last week created new volcanic vents on the ground miles east of the summit, releasing slow-moving lava and toxic gas into island communities.

Officials have warned of dangerous levels of sulphur dioxide gas, CNN reported.

Following the eruption on May 1, 1,700 residents were asked to evacuate. At least 36 structures — including 26 residences — have been destroyed since then.

Residents were being allowed to check on their properties from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day but must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice, the Hawaii County Civil Defence Agency says. (IANS)