Scientists discover unexpected underwater volcano off the coast of Africa

underwater volcano formation new 1
An active volcano discovered 3.5km (2 miles) below the sea surface CNRS/IPGP/IFREMER/BRGM

Geologists first noticed something unusual in the Indian Ocean in November last year, when they detected a massive seismic event originating from a spot near to the French island of Mayotte. Now further research has revealed that the source of the seismic activity is an enormous underwater volcano.

The people living on Mayotte, located between Madagascar and Mozambique off the coast of Africa, had been worried by seismic tremors for months. They were experiencing small earthquakes daily, Laure Fallou, a sociologist with the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre in Bruyères-le-Châtel, France, told Science. People “needed information,” she said. “They were getting very stressed, and were losing sleep.”

Maps of the seafloor showed a dramatic and recent change: a structure 800 meters high and 5 kilometers (3 miles) across had appeared on the ocean floor where there had been nothing before. A research team from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) were dispatched to investigate and placed six seismometers near the area of activity on the ocean floor, 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) beneath the surface.

The data the researchers collected showed there was a cluster of earthquake activity occurring beneath the Earth’s surface. And this activity is having a direct effect on the island: Mayotte has sunk 13 centimeters into the sea and has shifted 10 centimeters to the east.

The researchers believe the activity is the result of a deep magma chamber beneath the ocean floor, which erupted and pushed molten rock up onto the sea floor. As much as 5 cubic kilometers (1.2 cubic miles) of magma rose up out of the chamber and formed the structure found in the maps. As the magma rose, the chamber it came from shrunk, which caused cracks in the surrounding crust.

The formation of this particular underwater volcano is unusual as they typically form along ridges, where two or more tectonic plates meet, or they form in chains along areas where magma rises and is pulled along by tectonic forces. But the new volcano stands alone and formed very quickly.

For now, the researchers think that the volcano is not large enough to create a tsunami threat to the island. But they are concerned about the effects that repeated earthquakes could have on the stability of the ground that the island rests on. The team will be performing chemical analysis of the sea water in the area to learn more about the composition of the magma and the future risks it could pose.

Emerging Tech

Artificial tree promises to suck up as much air pollution as a small forest

Startup Biomitech has developed an artificial tree that it claims is capable of sucking up as much air pollution as 368 real trees. It could be a game-changer for cities with limited free space.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Hulu right now (August 2019)

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Here are the best shows on Netflix right now (August 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix right now (August 2019)

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

The best Xbox One games you can get right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

Mars 2020 rover now has a rotating array of drill bits for sampling Martian rock

Most the key components in the Mars 2020 rover are installed and ready to go. The next phase of construction was to install the bit carousel, an important mechanism for the gathering and sorting of samples from the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA selects landing site candidates for OSIRIS-Rex to sample asteroid Bennu

Last year, the OSIRIS-REx craft arrived at asteroid Bennu, from which it will collect a sample from the asteroid to be brought back to Earth. Now, the NASA team has selected four potential sites to choose from for the sampling mission.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants to send two more missions to Mars to collect rock samples

With its Mars 2020 mission, NASA hopes to collect samples from the surface of the planet. The challenge is how to get those samples back to Earth. Now, NASA has revealed its plans for two followup missions to Mars.
Emerging Tech

Eric Geusz: Apple engineer by day, spaceship designer by night

An Apple software engineer by day, artist Eric Geusz spends his nights drawing everyday household objects as amazing, science fiction-style spaceships. Check out the impressive results.
Emerging Tech

The black hole at the center of our galaxy is flaring and no one knows why

At the heart of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. Normally this giant monster is relatively docile, but recently it's been a hotbed of unexpected activity, rapidly glowing 75 times brighter than normal.
Emerging Tech

SpaceIL’s crashed lander may have sent thousands of tardigrades to the moon

When the SpaceIL craft Beresheet crashed into the moon earlier this year, it left more than just an impact mark. Thousands of micro-animals called tardigrades were along for the ride and may have survived the crash.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s satellite projects will study the sun using solar sailing

Small satellites can be used for all sorts of purposes, and NASA has been searching for ideas to push ahead the capabilities of the hardware. The agency has announced two new projects to demonstrate the potential of small satellites.
Emerging Tech

Hubble captures a beautiful cosmic jellyfish made of glowing gas

A new image from Hubble might look like a deep-space jellyfish, but it's not a sign of extraterrestrial life - in fact, it's a planetary nebula called NGC 2022, located in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter).