The Kilauea volcano is a popular tourist spot on the Big Island, attracting 5,000 visitors per day. For years it has been the spot of beautiful and harmless flowing lava, but recent data uncovers that this has not always been so. In 1790 an eruption of Kilauea killed 400 people, making it the largest explosion in United States’ history.
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.
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.
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.