HONOLULU — A volcano is likely erupting deep beneath the Pacific Ocean in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, but scientists can’t be sure because it’s so inaccessible.
All indications are that the Ahyi Seamount began to erupt in mid-October, the US Geological Survey said Monday. The Northern Mariana Islands are about 3800 miles west of Honolulu.
Scientists are looking to see if the activity is shallow earthquakes or if material exploded from the crater, said Matt Haney, a USGS geophysicist. Scientists are checking satellite data to see if there is any discolored water, which could suggest material is coming from the volcano, he said.
“There is no indication at this time that this eruption will intensify and become a major eruption,” Haney said.
Still, sailors would like to avoid the immediate area, he said.
Activity from an undersea volcanic source was picked up last month by hydroacoustic sensors some 1,400 miles away on Wake Island.
With help from the Laboratoire de Geophysique in Tahiti and data from seismic stations in Guam and Japan, scientists analyzed the signals to determine the source of the activity was likely Ahyi Seamount, the USGS said in a statement.
Activity has declined in recent days, the statement said.
Ahyi Seamount is a large cone-shaped submarine volcano. The highest point is 259 feet below the ocean’s surface. It is located about 18 kilometers southeast of the island of Farallon de Pajaros, also known as Uracas.
“There are no local monitoring stations near Ahyi Seamount, which limits our ability to detect and characterize volcanic unrest there,” the agency said. “We will continue to closely monitor available remote hydrophonic, seismic and satellite data.”
The seamount is part of the Mariana Volcanic Arc, a chain of more than 60 active volcanoes stretching 600 miles west of and parallel to the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest point.