What is ‘Sharkcano’ and what does it have to do with NASA?
Scientists captured an underwater volcano eruption via satellite recently, and it has renewed talks about ‘Sharkcano’ because two species of sharks were discovered living in the crater
“Sharkcano” sounds like the makings of a cheesy horror movie, but it’s actually based on something real.
NASA captured images of an underwater volcano erupting in the Pacific Ocean. The Landsat 9 satellite captured photos of the underwater volcano Kavachi, located in the Solomon Islands, erupting earlier this month. These types of eruptions are “characterized by phreatomagmatic explosions that ejected steam, ash, and incandescent bombs,” according to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Global Volcanism Program.
“You’ve heard of sharknado, now get ready for sharkcano,” NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center tweeted.
🦈 You’ve heard of sharknado, now get ready for sharkcano.— NASA Goddard (@NASAGoddard) May 22, 2022
The Kavachi Volcano in the Solomon Islands is home to two species of sharks. It’s also one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the Pacific, seen here erupting underwater by #Landsat 9.https://t.co/OoQU5hGWXQ pic.twitter.com/vEdRypzlgi
In 2015, an expedition discovered that two species of sharks were living in the crater, thus earning the underwater volcano the nickname of “Sharkcano,” per Smithsonian Magazine. The two species found were a scalloped hammerhead shark and a silky shark. Multiple fish species were also found.
The water in the area is highly acidic and “superheated.” It also contains volcanic rock fragments and sulfur, which appears to be making “microbial communities that thrive on sulfur,” researchers wrote in “Exploring the ‘Sharkcano’” for Oceanography magazine.
That discovery of sharks present in the crater presented “new questions about the ecology of active submarine volcanoes and the extreme environments in which large marine animals can exist,” per Oceanography magazine.
A baited autonomous camera dropped into the crater reveals the shark species, as well as zooplankton, per The Oceanography Society.
The island Kavachi is “named for a sea god of the Gatokae and Vangunu peoples, and it is sometimes also referred to as Rejo te Kvachi, or ‘Kavachi’s Oven’” and is known to have had eruptions since 1939, per Earth Observatory for NASA.