Magma Monster


Adelyn Nowlan , Staff Writer

This summer, a 235 foot research vessel named Marcus G. Langseth set out into the ocean to collect data. The giant ship set sail off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Trailing this ship were four electronic serpents. Each one is five miles in length. The cables are lined with scientific instruments to collect data on the heart beat of a monster miles below the sea. The monster is called Axial Seamount, a volcanic mountain. The one main goal is to not get the cables tangled. The game is over if they do.

The ship is owned by the National Science Foundation and is operated by Columbia University’s Earth Observatory. Scientists spent 33 days on board in July and August hoping to create 3-D models of the magmatic ponds and pathways of the active volcano. If these scientists succeed, they will be providing a new view of a hyperactive volcano that has never been seen.

With this new internal image, scientists will be able to learn about other underwater active volcanoes all over the world. Most of these volcanoes are still hidden under the gloomy depths of the sea. The ship being set into the sea has to be steered carefully and cannot be stopped abruptly. If the ship isn’t carefully steered, the cables could get tangled and create extensive consequences.

Towards the end of the month at sea, cables had broken. Scientists on the ship watched as a nightmare of black screens and data showing the monitor was not where it was supposed to be, swarmed them. For all they knew, it could be lost at sea forever. Losing these probes and sensors added a lot more zeroes to the expenses.

Now found, the Axial sits 300 miles off the coast of Oregon. The good news is, the scientists were still able to collect data on the volcano. One scientist, Adrien Arnulf, said the base could cover the entire city of Austin, Texas. The volcano is far from the largest on Earth. Scientists will continue to collect more data on this mass magma monster to see the damage it can do.