According to a new report, researchers observed a string of over 80,000 earthquakes that took place in 2020 near a long-dormant underwater volcano in the sea off Antarctica. In the paper, the scientists noted the cluster of earthquakes took place primarily between August and November two years ago.
These earthquakes were triggered by a “finger” of hot magma penetrating slightly into the Earth’s crust.
The international team of researchers also said that said string of disturbances was the strongest seismic activity ever recorded in Antarctica.
The study revealed that the two strongest earthquakes that occurred during this turbulent stretch measured magnitudes of 6.0 and 5.9, which is classified as “strong”.
Simone Cesca, the report’s lead author, and a seismologist at the GFZ German research Center for Geosciences said: “There have been similar intrusions in other places on Earth, but this is the first time we have observed it there.”
According to Mr Cesca, these processes normally take place over “geologic time scales,” as opposed to over the course of a human life span.
He added: “So in a way, we are lucky to see this.”
The report noted that the large cluster of earthquakes occurred as a result of a rapid transfer of magma from the Earth’s mantle to the crust near the surface.
Mr Cesca wrote in post: “During the second half of 2020, a swarm of at least 85,000 earthquakes occurred beneath the Bransfield Strait, a sea channel that divides the Antarctic mainland from the South Shetland Islands.
Another challenge the researchers faced was the amount of ice and frequent bouts of bad weather which would often prevent them from studying the activity.
Mr Cesca wrote: “Data could not provide any direct evidence for an undersea eruption.
“Only a future marine survey may be able to prove whether a submarine eruption took place or not.”