SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Actively Venting Underwater Volcano Discovered in Dixon Entrance



September 30, 2015
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) - A US - Canadian cooperative cruise aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship John P. Tully investigating the Queen Charlotte - Fairweather fault system have discovered an actively venting volcanic cone near Dixon Entrance.

The Queen Charlotte - Fairweather fault system extends from offshore of the northern part of Vancouver Island, Canada to the Fairweather Range in Southeast Alaska.

The actively venting volcanic cone was found just north of the US Alaska - Canadian boundary, northwest of Haida Gwaii, near Dixon Entrance. According to the Sitka Sound Science Center, the volcanic cone crests at 1,000 m water depth and exhibits multiple gas plumes rising about 700 m into the water column.

jpg Actively Venting Underwater Volcano Discovered in Dixon Entrance

Life at 1,000 m deep, where no light reaches the bottom organisms, requires food from other sources such as from chemicals seeping out vents or settling out in the water column. Organisms shown here are living near where fluids are seeping out of the newly discovered volcano.
Photo courtesy Sitka Sound Science Center

Follow-up investigations are underway and the scientific team led by the Principal Investigators Dr. H. Gary Greene (Sitka Sound Science Center) and Dr. Vaughn Barrie (Geological Survey of Canada) and composed of scientists and technicians from the Geological Survey of Canada, the US Geological Survey and Sitka Sound Science Center and crew have sent down a camera to photograph the feature and have taken bottom grab samples to determine the activity and origin of the cone. Spectacular photographs have been taken showing the chemosynthetic clams and mussels living near the vents as well as other rare and exotic organisms.

The volcano lies in what appears to be a volcanic field interspersed with landslides and other remarkable landforms.

This discovery suggests that fluids play a major role in facilitating the movement along the fault zone and that volcanic centers appears to be scattered along the entire length of the fault.

Much more work needs to be done to refine the geologic interpretation, but the preliminary results from the cruise indicates that this fault zone that separates the North American Plate from the Pacific plate is actively leaking gas and fluids.

The work is funded by the United States Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program through a award to the Sitka Sound Science Center.


On the Web:

About the Queen Charlotte - Fairweather fault system


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Sitka Sound Science Center


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