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Published on Feb 22, 2010
This video shows an eruption of the West Mata volcano, discovered in May 2009. The eruption occurred nearly 4,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, in an area bounded by Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Scientists funded by NOAA and the National Science Foundation recorded this footage that, in 2009, represented the deepest erupting volcano yet discovered.
Scientists described high-definition video of the undersea eruption as spectacular. "We found a type of lava never before seen erupting from an active volcano, and for the first time, observed molten lava flowing across the deep-ocean seafloor," said the mission's Chief Scientist Joseph Resing, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Washington who collaborates with NOAA through the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.
This spectacular sequence is a close view of the eruption, with violent magma degassing events producing bright flashes of hot magma. Lava is blown up into the water before settling back to the seafloor and large plugs of lava flow rapidly down the slope.
In the foreground of the video is the front of the Jason remotely operated vehicle with sampling hoses. The area in view is about 6-10 feet across in an eruptive area approximately 100 yards that runs along the summit.
Video courtesy of National Science Foundation and NOAA.