26 May 2005

Marine expert in American Samoa says new undersea volcano needs monitoring

8:07 pm on 26 May 2005

A marine ecologist in American Samoa Peter Craig says further monitoring is needed of a new undersea volcano that's growing at a phenomenal rate.

The new volcano, named Nafanua after the Samoan goddess of war, did not exist just four years ago.

Located under waters to the east of American Samoa's Tau island, it may become the next island in the Samoa chain.

Mr Craig says he joined a team of research experts from the US on an undersea exploratory mission to examine the Vailulu'u volcano, when they discovered it.

He says it is very rare to find a volcano cone growing at a rate of 20-centimeters per day, and it's already 300 meters high.

"We have a new island beginning to develop on the sea bed. And it fits the classical picture of an island chain being formed as the crystalled plate moves over a stationary hot spot that periodically creates a new mountain, maybe every million years or so."

Peter Craig says they also discoverd 60 eels that were previously thought to be only found in cold waters, residing in the new volcano's hot underwater vent.