North-West Eifuku Champagne Vent

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Eifuku Champagne Vent emitting bubbles of liquid carbon dioxide, Northern Marianas
Eifuku Champagne Vent emitting bubbles of liquid carbon dioxide / U.S. Geological Survey / public domain.
Only some decades ago it was discovered that at some submarine volcanoes can be found hot springs which emit liquid carbon dioxide. Best known is the North-West Eifuku Champagne Vent in Northern Mariana Islands.

Discovery

In 1990 there was published a Japanese research paper about discovery of unusual hydrothermal vents in Okinawa Through – there deep under the water formed bubbles of liquid carbon dioxide.

Next "springs" of liquid carbon dioxide were discovered in the Northern Marianas in the April/May 2004, when the active submarine volcanoes were explored by the USA led "Submarine Ring of Fire 2004" expedition.

There were explored several active geothermal fields around the submarine NW Eifuku volcano, but the most exotic one had numerous soapy bubbles rising from it and thus this field was called "Champagne".

This unusual natural landmark is located at the depth of 1,607 m and the discovery was made by a robot – remotely-operated vehicle ROPOS.

Champagne vents of North West Eifuku Volcano (bubbles not seen in this image), Northern Marianas
Champagne vents of North West Eifuku Volcano (bubbles not seen in this image) / U.S. Geological Survey / public domain.

Breath of the former life

The gases are coming through several so called "white smokers" – small mounds which emit a light-colored, misty liquid. These mounds in Champagne field are up to 1 m high and the emitted liquid is up to 103° C hot.

Next to these white plumes from the ocean bed are rising bubbles of cold (less than 4° C), liquid carbon dioxide. It is in a liquid state due to the high pressure in this depth. These bubbles are not transparent but rather white colored – their walls are covered with hydrate (or clathrate) of carbon dioxide.

Also the white plume contains very high, even unprecedented amoount of carbon dioxide. Every second towards the surface of ocean rise 23 moles of CO2.

Scientists consider that such high amount of this gas is produced due to the following reasons:

  • Here is located subduction zone – the floor of the ocean here is diving into the hot entrails of the Earth;
  • Floor of the ocean is covered with a layer of carbonates (limestone, dolostone) – remnants of the ocean life, such as fishes, crustaceans and plankton;
  • As carbonates reach the heat, there is emitted the carbon dioxide from this material. This gas rises upwards until it reaches atmosphere.

Thus, in a way these bubbles represent the last breath of the ocean life.

Acid ocean?

Lately there are discovered more and more such emissions of liquid carbon dioxide. Thus, for example, at Nikko and Daikoku submarine volcanoes such carbon dioxide bubbles rise from the pools of liquid sulphur. Wild exotics! New discoveries are reported also near Kermadec Islands.

Scientists consider that these springs can help us to understand the effects of acidification on ocean life. Thus, it has been reported that mussels near NW Eifuku Champagne vents have considerably thinner shells. This research though is in an early stage.

References

  1. Lupton, J.; Lilley, M.; Butterfield, D.; Evans, L.; Embley, R.; Olson, E.; Proskurowski, G.; Resing, J.; Roe, K.; Greene, R.; Lebon, G. Liquid Carbon Dioxide Venting at the Champagne Hydrothermal Site, NW Eifuku Volcano, Mariana Arc. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2004, abstract #V43F-08.

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North-West Eifuku Champagne Vent 21.489573, 144.038172   North-West Eifuku Champagne Vent
Coordinates: 21.4896 N 144.0382 E (mistake up to 800 m)
Categories: Geothermal fields, Fumaroles, Springs
Values: Geology
Rating: (3 / 5)
Address: Australia and Oceania, Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, Northern Island Municipality, north from Farallon de Pajaros island, North-West Eifuku volcano (submarine), to the west from the summit of volcano
Temperature of liquid: 103° C

Landmarks of Northern Mariana Islands

Blue Grotto, Saipan
Blue Grotto, Saipan / tata_aka_T, / CC BY 2.0
Highlights of Northern Mariana Islands are the unique submarine volcanoes, the gorgeous nature and local megaliths – latte stone settings.

Springs

Fontaine de Vaucluse, very high water level
Fontaine de Vaucluse, very high water level / / CC BY-SA 2.0

This category includes natural sites where water, other liquids and/or gases reach the surface of the Earth, including locations under water.

Powerful natural freshwater springs belong to the most fascinating monuments of nature. Even more exciting is the diversity of unusual springs – mineral springs, hot springs, submarine springs as well as the unusual black smokers. Especially beautiful are such natural rarities as travertine, silica or salt terraces created by warm and hot springs and, especially, geysers.

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