NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has released two very cool videos of an underwater volcano erupting.
The footage comes from Brimstone Pit, a vent on a volcano on the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Arc. The volcano, called NW Rota-1, was discovered in 2004 and has since been visited several times by international teams of explorers, according to NOAA. The volcano is believed to erupt frequently, and possibly continuously.
Using remotely operated vehicles, oceanographers have been able to capture chemistry samples, up-close images and video of the vent. The first video shows billowing plumes of debris, gas and ash so rich in sulfur that a yellow tinge is visible. A second video shows flashes of red as lava is fired from the vent. In both, scientists watching the footage describe in excited voices the submarine explosions, believed to be the first ever caught on record.
Hydrothermal vents are of great interest to scientists because their unique chemistry and warm temperatures often make them rich in diverse forms of underwater life.