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A gigantic submarine volcano grows off Mayotte

After the earthquakes of 2018, researchers discovered that the “largest underwater eruption” ever documented was in the process of giving life to a gigantic volcano.

The volcanoes, Comorians know them by heart. It is moreover to them that the whole archipelago owes its life; it indeed emerged from the bowels of the earth at the end of a Dantesque volcanic episode, which occurred more than ten million years ago. Since then, the area has remained relatively calm from a geological point of view… but this situation has been changing in recent years.

This is what emerges from a study by French researchers from the Institut de Physique du Globe du CNRS, in Paris. The works suggest that a “large volcanic edifice”Is reportedly appearing off Mayotte since 2018.

A date which is not trivial and which certainly brings back memories to the inhabitants of the island, since it corresponds to a particularly intense seismic episode. In mid-May, the island was shaken by several thousand “exceptionally deep” earthquakes, some of which were of considerable magnitude. And knowing the very close link between volcanism and seismic phenomena, this situation naturally piqued the curiosity of geologists.

Largest active underwater eruption ever documented

They hastened to conduct their little investigation, and concluded that this episode corresponded to a volcanic eruption probably important. A hypothesis that they went to verify in 2019. It is this campaign MAYOBS1. which is the subject of this team’s paper, which therefore spent many months analyzing the results. And they shouldn’t have believed their eyes when they read the results for the first time: they managed to identify an underwater volcanic structure 820 meters high, located about fifty kilometers off Mayotte. . This observation is all the more impressive since this relief absolutely did not exist in 2014, barely four years earlier.

According to the researchers, this is quite simply one of the largest underwater eruptions ever documented. If we restrict ourselves to active eruptions, it is even the largest ever recorded. This neo-volcano would have unearthed no less than 5 cubic kilometers of material between the start of the process, estimated at 2018, and the study carried out in 2019!

According to Futura Sciences, it is a volcanic manifestation that it will be very important to monitor, because it could evolve in the relatively near future; new eruptions could thus take place in the area, below sea level, but also above.

The text of the study is available here.

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