The Axial Seamount is an active volcano that you’ve never heard of, because its lava isn’t threatening people and its ash doesn’t disrupt plane flights. It’s underwater, off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. On April 6 of this year, it started erupting, though no one noticed for quite some time.
Now the eruptions have ceased and the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) is sending robots down to the volcano to investigate, make plans for a more permanent underwater observatory, and generally find out more about underseas volcanoes. The most exciting part: You can watch live streams of what their underwater robots are looking at here. You can also follow OOI’s Twitter feed to get live updates about what you’re looking at.
While you won’t see any lava explosions, you can see frozen lava flows on the sea floor as the submarine robots swim past. More than 60 percent of all volcanic activity takes place underwater, and some of the hardy creatures that have evolved to live around these extremely hostile volcanic vents may be the key to innovations about how to live in a post-climate change world. If they can live by a volcano, perhaps we can emulate them to live on a hotter planet with dirtier air.