Scientists who have discovered previously unknown underwater volcanoes around the remote South Sandwich Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean say the research is important to help understand what happens when volcanoes erupt or collapse underwater.
Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) used ship-borne sea-floor mapping technology during cruises aboard the research ship RRS James Clark Ross and found 12 volcanoes below the water's surface, some of which were as tall as 3 km.
They also found craters with 5 km diameters that collapsing volcanoes left behind, and seven active volcanoes visible above the water's surface as a series of islands.
Scientists say the research will help them understand the potential for volcanoes to create hazards such as tsunamis.
There is so much that we don't understand about volcanic activity beneath the sea -- it's likely that volcanoes are erupting or collapsing all the time, Dr. Phil Leat of the BAS said at the International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences in Edinburgh.
”The technologies that scientists can now use from ships not only give us an opportunity to piece together the story of the evolution of our Earth, but they also help shed new light on the development of natural events that pose hazards for people living in more populated regions on the planet”.