A reader sent me a link from a 1993 article that shows how woefully ignorant we once were when it came to underwater volcanoes.
I actually featured this article in Not by Fire but by Ice. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 10, “Fish Stew.”
Underwater volcanoes affect our lives and our weather in ways we don’t understand. But how can we understand, when we don’t know how many there are? How can we understand, when we keep finding new ones by the thousands?
Marine geophysicists aboard the research vessel Melville recently discovered 1,133 previously unmapped underwater volcanoes about 600 miles northwest of Easter Island. (Easter Island is about 2,300 miles west of Chile in the South Pacific.)
And they’re huge. Some of the newly-found volcanoes rise almost a mile and a half above the seafloor. Even then, their peaks remain about a mile and a half below the water’s surface. Consisting of both seamounts and volcanic cones, they’re packed into an area of 55,000 square miles, about the size of New York state.
Scientists were shocked. “We thought we would find a few dozen new volcanoes,” said Ken Macdonald at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Instead we found over 1,000 that had never been mapped before.” It’s the greatest concentration of geologically active volcanoes on earth. (New York Times, 14 Feb 1993, link below)
We have no idea how many volcanoes may be lurking beneath the seas. Oceanographers previously believed there were about 10,000. But now? It’s up for grabs. Only five percent of the ocean floor has ever been mapped in detail, said Macdonald.
What we do know, is that underwater volcanoes pump awesome amounts of heat into the seas.
That was in 1993. Today, scientists estimate that there are more than three million underwater volcanoes.
And we wonder what is heating our seas?
Thanks to Ray Kraft for this reminder