Rising Waters at Lake Atitlan

P1020691 - Taken with a DMC-TS2

Lake Atitlan from San Pedro

I am presently living with my family in Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Lake Atitlan occupies a volcanic caldera that formed in a huge eruption about 80,000 years ago. The lake is about 20 km long, 10 km wide and 300 m deep, so even very simplistic volume calculations indicate a large volume of erupted material draping the surrounding region.

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Geos 111: Clash of the Elements – Volcano Eruptions in the Deep Ocean

We are all familiar with volcanic eruptions, from the fiery lava belched from the underbelly of Hawaii, to the large and terrifying explosive, ash eruptions like the Mount Saint Helens eruption of 1980. However, did you know that submarine eruptions account for about three-quarters of all of Earth’s volcanism ? The ocean floor is full of the cracks, or plate boundaries, that help the Earth to release some of its’ pent-up heat, hence underwater volcanoes.

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GEOS 111: Underwater Volcano in the Canaries

On October 9, an underwater volcano off the coast of El Hierro erupted; the first eruption this area has seen in 40 years. Even more significantly, it is the deepest submarine volcano scientists have ever been able to study visually. “This is probably the first time that such a young underwater volcano has been mapped in such high resolution,” explains Juan Acosta, head of the IEO campaign.

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