October 23rd, 2011 by Joshua S Hill
Scientists who witnessed the eruption of a deep sea volcano during a 2009 expedition report that the volcano was taking place near a tear in the planetary crust that is mimicking the birth of a subduction zone.
A study of their findings was published in the journal Nature and depicts the collection of boninite, a comparatively rare and chemically distinct lava that has only been found in conjunction with the formation of our planet’s subduction zones – the process that takes place at the boundaries of tectonic plates whereby one slips under another – and only then, collected from long-dead volcanoes millions of years old.
According to Joseph Resing, an oceanographer from the University of Washington and lead author of the online article, nobody has ever collected fresh boninite and scientists have never had the opportunity to monitor its eruption either.
“Everything about the eruption itself – how fast, how intense, the ratio of lava to explosive fragments, the amount and composition of gas released – is new to us,” said co-author Kenneth Rubin, University of Hawaii geologist. “Plus, having a young, fresh occurrence of this very rare rock type to study gives us the opportunity to examine subtle chemical and mineralogical variations in a pristine specimen.”
Source: University of Washington
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