Volcanism on the ocean floor: What are we missing?
IPGP - Îlot Cuvier
Séminaires Géosciences Marines
Almost all of the deep ocean floor has never been investigated at a resolution relevant to detecting or understanding magmatic processes possibly occurring there. In water deeper than around 500m (i.e. over around 60% of our planet´s surface), this sort of investigation cannot, generally, be performed from the sea surface and requires submersible equipment. The strong scientific focus of deep-submergence studies in the last 30 years on arcs, hotspots and spreading axes, and the risk-averse nature of national funding agencies, means that exploration of the abyssal intraplate areas has not occurred. I will show that when exploration in these regions has happened “by accident", examples of relatively young volcanism are repeatedly found on seafloor with a vast range of creation ages. This suggests that the abyssal regions are not “dead” or inactive but may in fact play a far larger role in the Earth system than previously thought, harbouring types of volcanism not seen in classical plate-boundary and hotspot settings.