Scientists captured underwater volcano behavior 

Researchers got a rare opportunity to study an underwater volcano in the Caribbean when it erupted while they were surveying the area.

Underwater survey of Kick-'em-Jenny showing gas venting after the eruption in April 2017
Underwater survey of Kick-'em-Jenny showing gas venting after the eruption in April 2017 © Imperial College London

A new study provides new insight into the little-studied world of underwater volcanoes. It investigated a volcano named Kick-‘em-Jenny (KeJ), which is thought to be named after the turbulent waters nearby.

Using ship-based imaging technology, scientists observed the Volcano, watching gas originating from the focal cone. The information was then combined with past studies backpedaling over 30 years to uncover the long haul example of movement.

The team from Imperial College London, Southampton, and Liverpool universities, in collaboration with The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre(SRC), was collecting ocean-bottom seismometers aboard the NERC research ship R.R.S. James Cook as part of a larger experiment when they were alerted to the volcano erupting.

Plan view of the survey data, showing the position of the volcano
Plan view of the survey data, showing the position of the volcano

Kick-them Jenny is one of the Caribbean’s most dynamic volcanoes. It sits eight kilometers off the northern shoreline of the island of Grenada, and was first found in 1939 when a 300-meter segment of powder and tidy was spotted ascending from the sea.

Nonetheless, volcanic action at KeJ is generally identified by going with seismic movement grabbed ashore based seismometers. These chronicles demonstrate that the fountain of liquid magma is dynamic on a decadal timescale.

Scientists found that the volcano has visit cycles of magma ‘vault’ development finished by crumple avalanches. Comparable cycles have been as of late seen on the adjacent volcanic island of Montserrat.

Lead author and Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet Ph.D. student Robert Allen, from the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial, said: “There are surveys of the Kick-‘em-Jenny area going back 30 years, but our survey in April 2017 is unique in that it immediately followed an eruption. This gave us unprecedented data on what this volcanic activity actually looks like, rather than relying on interpreting seismic signals.”

Co-author Dr. Jenny Collier, from the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial, said: “Kick-‘em-Jenny is a very active volcano but because it is submarine is less well studied than other volcanoes in the Caribbean. Our research shows that whilst it has quite regular cycles, it is on a relatively small scale, which will help inform future monitoring strategies.”

SRC Director Professor Richard Robertson said: “This study has confirmed very useful recent insights on the activity and evolution of Kick-‘em-Jenny volcano. For us, the agency with responsibility for monitoring this volcano, the results of this collaborative research project enable us to better quantify our existing model of this volcano and help in developing strategies for managing future eruptions.”

The research was by funded by NERC (the Natural Environment Research Council) as part of the VoiLA research project. This project, a multidisciplinary collaboration between UK universities and The University of the West Indies, aims to discover the role that volatile recycling plays in the growth of the Lesser Antilles island arc.

The research, published today in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.