- Geologists previously predicted Axial Seamount would erupt this year
- For more than a week the region has experienced thousands of tiny quakes
- Seafloor has also reportedly dropped by almost 8ft (2.4 metres)
- Both are said to be a sign of magma moving from beneath the summit
An undersea volcano situated 300 miles (480 km) off the coast of Oregon is thought to be erupting after signs of magma were spotted near its deep sea vent.
Geologists predicted the volcano, called Axial Seamount, would erupt this year during a public lecture in September.
And for more than a week the region has experienced thousands of tiny earthquakes – a sign that magma is moving towards the surface.
The seafloor has also reportedly dropped by almost 8ft (2.4 metres), additionally said to be a sign of magma being withdrawn from a reservoir beneath the summit.
They based their forecast on some of their previous research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which showed how the volcano inflates and deflates like a balloon in a repeatable pattern as it responds to magma being fed into the seamount.
‘It isn’t clear yet whether the earthquakes and deflation at Axial are related to a full-blown eruption, or if it is only a large intrusion of magma that hasn’t quite reached the surface,’ said Professor Chadwick, who works out of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport and is affiliated with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.
Researchers know of two previous eruptions by the volcano, but those 1998 and 2011 eruptions were detected months or years afterward.
Last year, researchers connected monitoring equipment to an undersea cable that, for the first time, allowed them to gather live data on the volcano, whose peak is about 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) below the ocean surface.
This cable has led to the volcano being dubbed ‘wired’.