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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Almanac: Undersea Volcanoes

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about undersea volcanoes. Scientists are recording them, and tourists are flocking to them.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood. And if you were a marine animal, this is what you might hear when a volcano erupts.


CURWOOD: Scientists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration are using special microphones to record volcanoes under the ocean. And, this month, they caught one in action just off the coast of British Columbia.


CURWOOD: That's lava breaking through the sea floor at a volcano called Juan de Fuga. There are about 20,000 undersea volcanoes located along ocean ridges that stretch around the earth like seams on a baseball. And tours of them are becoming as popular and as expensive as a skybox at a World Series game.

Off the coast of Portugal, special submarines take tourists nearly 8,000 feet down under. And if you can afford the $20,000 ticket, you'll see a field of chimney-like structures called the Rainbow Vents, which continuously blast lava up to 30 feet into the water.

Undersea volcanoes make for extreme environments. They can heat the surrounding water up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. But that doesn't stop some animals and plants from calling them home. Among the volcanic sea life are white crabs, blind shrimp and tubeworms, as well as mussels and clams, some the size of dinner plates. And for this week, that's the Living On Earth Almanac.




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