The Search for Submarine Volcanos Begins

The daily commute: a Solomon Islander plies the waters near the active Kolombangara stratovolcano.  Photograph by Sarah L. Smith
The daily commute: a Solomon Islander plies the waters near the active Kolombangara stratovolcano. Photograph by Sarah L. Smith

By Brennan Phillips

The hunt for active hydrothermal activity around the Solomon Islands is on! National Geographic Society/Waitt grantee Brennan Phillips and his team are searching for underwater volcanic activity. Their findings will be the first step towards ecosystem-based management of deep-sea mineral resources.

“The only tidings we have from these unfathomable regions are by means of volcanoes, those burning mountains that seem to discharge their materials from the lowest abysses of the earth.”

–Oliver Goldsmith, A History of the Earth and Animated Nature, 1875

If it weren’t so much work to actually get here, I’d think I was on vacation. Tiny dotted islands of lush greenery surround immense volcanic cones covered in virgin rainforest. Native Solomon Islanders still shuttle between villages using dugout canoes, while giant tuna, swordfish, and sharks are in abundance. The diving here is unparalled; the Solomon Islands are the most recent addition to the “Coral Triangle”, which harbors 76 percent of Earth’s coral species. Deeper than 100 meters, however, the Solomons are entirely unexplored; which is stunning considering they lie in an area the size of New England containing active —> Read More Here

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