W.G. Muller, 1978 (Barrier Reef Cruises, Queensland, Australia; courtesy of D. Tuni)/Smithsonian Institution - Global Volcanism Program Underwater volcano erupting
Stranger things have happened, for sure. But this could be a first for many.
According to scientists, an active underwater volcano in the Pacific has started to erupt, spewing smoke and ash — plus, quite possibly, fragments of the highly adaptable sharks that live inside it — sky-high into the atmosphere.
NASA recently released satellite images showing the Kavachi Volcano, located near the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, east of New Guinea, spouting huge plumes of water from the crater that has been dubbed the "Sharkcano."
No, not Sharknado, the goofy Syfy franchise starting Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and a host of celeb guest stars — including Gary Busey, Olivia Newton-John, Bret Michaels, Jackie Collins and Real Housewives mainstay Cynthia Bailey — battling great white sharks flying through the air.
No, this is "Sharkcano."
— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) February 4, 2014
The volcano earned this memorable moniker in 2015, when scientists were shocked to find two species of sharks, including hammerheads, living — and thriving — in the hot, acidic, sulfur-laden water in the crater, located deep in the ocean, according to NASA Earth Observatory.
Using a baited drop camera nearly 150 feet inside the crater, the scientists also saw bluefin trevally, snapper, sixgill stingrays, jellyfish and silky sharks living in this extreme environment, the researchers wrote in a 2016 Oceanography article, "Exploring the 'Sharkcano': Biogeochemical observations of the Kavachi submarine volcano (Solomon Islands)."
In 2015, scientists found hammerhead sharks living in the hot, acidic waters of Kavachi Volcano's underwater crater. The 'sharkano', as they called it, is erupting again. https://t.co/l4Exv5GZXy pic.twitter.com/XS7QBHxqCw
— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) May 17, 2022
"Populations of gelatinous animals, small fish, and sharks were observed inside the active crater, raising new questions about the ecology of active submarine volcanoes and the extreme environments in which large marine animals can exist," the scientists wrote in 2016 in the article.
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The January 2015 expedition to the Kavachi Volcano, which is about 15 miles south of Vangunu Island in the Solomon Sea, "was serendipitously timed with a rare lull in volcanic activity that permitted access to the inside of Kavachi's active crater and its flanks," the scientists wrote.
The volcano entered an eruptive phase in October 2021, according to the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program.
NASA released satellite images of the volcano erupting on May 14, showing discolored water around the volcano several times between April and May 2022, the NASA Earth Observatory reported.
According to the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program, the volcano began erupting in October 2021.
Kavachi has had other major eruptions in 2007 and 2014. Its first recorded eruption was in 1939.