PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (NBC) - Researchers have unveiled stunning new pictures of a volcanic eruption deep underwater. Video released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows what's described by researchers as a deep sea eruption.
Hot magma blows up into the water a mile under the ocean. Plumes of smoke-like sulfa and ash cover an area the size of a football field. The bright orange lava bubbles quickly turns to black rock in the freezing water and drop back to the seabed.
This is the eruption of the West Mata Volcano south of Samoa in the Pacific Ocean.
"…basically volcanic rock sitting on the sea floor and they knew that there was lots of it. Naturally the question becomes can we see it erupting and so for the last 25 years we've tried our best to go find an actively erupting volcano" said marine geologist Joseph Resing.
The images were filmed by a NOAA submersible robot. At 4,000 feet below the surface, water pressure suppresses the violent explosions so the robot can get within feet of the eruption.
"For the very first time we see molten lava flowing on the sea floor. We see explosions and bubbles and just the sea floor suddenly opens up and boom, bright red. It's beautiful."
The exploding lava 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and turned the water more acidic than battery acid. The only marine life that thrives in these conditions is shrimp which stay close to the warm rocks and glowing vents.