Thursday, July 09, 2009

Giant underwater volcano attracts scientists' attention!

The under-water volcano Columbus, situated 6,5 meters south-east of Santorini in the Aegean sea, is being observed with great interest by Greek and German scientists. The have registered constant earthquakes of 4 Richter, hot air eruptions and continuous changes in the sea floor around the crater. The volcano is 470 meters high and reaches down to 17 meters beneath the sea floor. Its crater’s width is out of proportion- 1.5 kilometers. Complex submarine equipment has shown that Columbus’s volcanic activity never stops. It is the reason for the frequent earthquakes and constant changes in the surface around the crater.

“The distortion of the sea floor is minor but it can be seen on the walls of the crater and in the 10-15-kilometers perimeter around it,” says Martin Heds from the Geology and Seismology institute to the Hamburg University. According to him, this does not indicate an eruption in near future. The last eruption of Columbus was in 1650. “Reservoirs” filled with hot water, reaching 200 degrees centigrade, resembling under-water fire places and releasing different kinds of gases- mostly carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, were found around the volcano. Another reservoir- 5 kilometers wide is situated under the volcano, filled with magma. A liquid, boiling substance is being released by this reservoir, causing the earthquakes and the other phenomena observed by the scientists.

To compare, the other volcano situated nearby is not causing any earthquakes, no release of submarine gases is observed and the gases evolving obove the sea-surface have a temperature of 17 degrees centigrade, i. e., it is in a quiet stage. Columbus is part of the Santorini volcanic center, belonging to the Volcanic group of the South Aegean, together with Susaki, Metana, Milos and Nisiros. This group appeared around 13 years ago when the north part of the African tectonic slab began submerging under Aegean sea’s slab.

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