An undersea volcano near the Cook Islands was observed to grow and shrink rapidly in a fortnight, rivaling the rapid changes in Vesuvius and Mt. St. Helens.

The BBC News reported that a research team from Oxford “recorded huge changes in height in just two weeks.”  In fact, they were glad they weren’t there during an explosive phase, or else “rocks could have hit the hull of the ship — that could have been potentially dangerous.”

Submarine geology is “little known,” the article said.   Sonar images of the undersea volcano before and after showed rapid changes had occurred:

Later the ship returned to the scene and the scientists were surprised to see how much the volcano had changed. In the space of a fortnight, one part of the volcano’s summit had collapsed by as much as 18.8m while new lava flows had raised another area by 79.1m. Most striking was the creation of an entirely new volcanic cone.

The researchers believe the changes are larger than at most other volcanoes. Only Vesuvius and Mount St Helens have recorded larger growth rates.

The paper says the speed of growth and change is “a reminder of how rapidly geological processes such as submarine landsliding and volcanism can occur.”

The article stated that some 32,000 undersea mountains have been identified, many believed to be volcanic in origin….

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