This past week has seen the steady rumble of thousands of tiny earthquakes radiating from off the coast of Oregon. Coupled with a sudden 8 foot drop in the seafloor—indicative of magma being withdrawn from reservoirs deep underneath the seabed—it seems likely that a powerful volcanic eruption is underway, most likely courtesy of the Axial Seamount, a massive underwater volcano located about 250 miles offshore.
By Michael Byrne|MOTHERBOARD
An Axial eruption would be no surprise: Geologists Bill Chadwick of Oregon State University and Scott Nooner of the University of North Carolina forecasted the event last fall, a claim they reiterated just last week at the NOVAE scientific workshop in Seattle. Their prediction is based on recent research demonstrating how the Axial volcano is able to inflate and deflate like a magma balloon. (Disclosure: the author is a student at Oregon State and unaffiliated with the research in question.)
As Chadwick noted in a blog post on Thursday (the duo maintain a regular blog dedicated to Axial Seamount activity and forecasts), confirming the eruption will require a journey out to the scene of the crime: “There are some hints that lava did erupt, but we may not know for sure until we can get out there with a ship,“ he said. It may be possible for researchers to get to the site as early as this month, but it likely won’t be until August until Chadwick and Nooner are able to get to the volcano with a remotely operated undersea vehicle.