Underwater Kavachi volcano with sharks living in it has entered ‘active eruptive phase’, NASA says

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An underwater volcano that has sharks living inside its boiling crater is starting to erupt, according to NASA.

The space agency said the Kavachi volcano, in the Solomon Islands, entered an active eruptive phase in October 2021 after a period of relative inactivity.

Fast forward six months and satellite data has shown discoloured water around Kavachi on several days in April and May 2022.

Discoloured water emitted from Kavachi, a submarine volcano in the Pacific that has sharks living inside it.
Discoloured water emitted from Kavachi, a submarine volcano in the Pacific that has sharks living inside it. (NASA)
“(An image) acquired on May 14, 2022, by the Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9, shows a plume of discoloured water being emitted from the submarine volcano,” NASA said.

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Previous research has shown such plumes of superheated, acidic water usually contain particulate matter, volcanic rock fragments, and sulfur.

“Prior to this recent activity, large eruptions were observed at Kavachi in 2014 and 2007.”

Kavachi is deemed one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the Pacific region.

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In 2015 cameras were dropped into the rolling crater in an expedition guided by National Geographic grantee Dr Brennan Phillips.

What scientists found inside the crater shocked them: reef sharks, hammerheads and scalloped hammerheads all swam up to the lens.

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One the sharks filmed within Kavachi volcano.
One the sharks filmed within Kavachi volcano. (National Geographic)
A hammerhead was also filmed inside the crater.
A hammerhead was also filmed inside the crater. (National Geographic)

The species were seemingly unbothered by the fact an eruption had taken place moments before.

In 2020, marine ecologist Michael Heithaus, from the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University, hypothesised a cluster of pores on the sharks’ snouts, called the ampullae of Lorenzini, helped them detect eruptions before they happened.

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“It looked like the sharks in the volcano were used to dealing with eruptions,” he told 9news.com.au.

“You would think it’s dangerous but studies have shown us they can detect approaching hurricanes and cyclones, so they may be able to detect when something bad is about to happen and move out of the way.

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“It just demonstrates how adaptable sharks are.”



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