In 2015, lava erupted from an underwater volcano on the mid-ocean ridge system several hundred miles off the coast of Oregon, 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) deep below the sea surface. As cracks in the seafloor opened, molten lava poured out. The surface of the flow quickly solidified as it contacted the cold seawater, but molten lava continued to flow underneath.
The flow eventually broke out as a fast-flowing lava channel, leaving behind spectacular features on the seafloor. The hollow domes and pillars created by the eruption have become useful perches for deep-sea life. A year after the eruption, MBARI researchers visited the site and captured video of these stunning formations with ROV Doc Ricketts.
The entire ocean crust was created this way, but it is exciting and rare even for deep-sea geologists to observe this remarkable scenery. Eventually, the formations will be covered by sediment raining down from the surface, hidden from sight. Make sure to watch the full video for a surprise guest appearance.
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