Scientists find new string of underwater volcanoes in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty

Saturday, June 2, 2012
By Paul Martin
June 2, 2012

NEW ZEALAND – A group of Wellington scientists have returned from an expedition confirming volcanic activity in a seamount or under-sea mountain off the Bay of Plenty. Niwa says the unique area needs protecting from activities like fishing and sea bed mining in the future. The Tangaroa seamount near White Island in the Bay of Plenty has been confirmed by a Niwa expedition to be volcanic. Niwa principal scientist Malcolm Clark says they have discovered new hydrothermal vents which create chimney-like structures. “Some of the venting we found was very high temperature, black smoker type situations, where the temperature is several hundred degrees Celsius.” The top of the seamount is nearly a kilometre below the ocean’s surface. “These are species which are adapted to live in quite extreme conditions, high levels of hydrogen sulphide which is toxic to most life forms, quite high temperatures, they’re deep, there’s no light, they’re under quite high pressure,” says Malcolm. Dr Clark has just returned from taking the first biological samples of the animals which have adapted to Tangaroa’s unique environmental conditions. There are 50 submarine volcanoes stretching along the Kermadec Ridge. It’s a significant feature of the Western Pacific, extending almost 1500km to the edge of the New Zealand., northeast of the Kermadec Islands. Hydrothermal vents associated with these volcanoes release hot water and gases with different chemical compositions, so specific communities have adapted to survive in each area. –Sun Live

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