Satellite Spots Eruption of Underwater ‘Sharkcano’

Credit: Unsplash

The volcano got its nickname from the sharks that live in it.

Back in 2015, a scientific expedition to the Kavachi volcano in the Solomon Islands, one of the most active underwater volcanoes in the Pacific ocean, yielded a fascinating discovery: amongst the superheated, highly acidic water within the volcano were several species of shark, living alongside a galaxy of microscopic organisms.

While microscopic organisms living in underwater volcanos is nothing new, large marine creatures normally wouldn’t be able to withstand the extreme conditions, suggesting these sharks may have undergone some manner of physical mutation. Because of this discovery, the volcano was nicknamed the “sharkcano.”

Fast forward to this week, the Operational Land Imager 2 on the Landsat 9 satellite owned and operated by NASA caught an image of an underwater disturbance, suggesting that the sharkcano has experienced a full eruption. This isn’t unusual for this particular volcano; residents of nearby islands would regularly see plumes of steam and ash shoot up from the water when it erupts. This is, however, the first major eruption recorded since the sharks were discovered in 2015.

It is not currently known how the sharks dwelling within the volcano fare when it erupts in full, though considering the volcano is in a constant state of near-eruption year-round, the temperature, acidity, and pressure is likely not all that different between its base state and an actual eruption. As such, assuming the sharks are as resilient as believed, they are more than likely completely fine down there.

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