Washington, April 23 : Scientists have found a giant and unusual underwater volcano just offshore of Iceland on the Reykjanes Ridge.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the Reykjanes formation is a section of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which bisects the Atlantic Ocean where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart.
"We were doing a normal oceangoing mission, and we found a big edifice about 90 miles (150 kilometers) south of Iceland," said Armann Hoskuldsson, a University of Iceland volcanologist, who was a part of an international team that discovered the volcano.
The structure turned out to be an active volcano that rises about 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) above the surrounding sections of the ridge, coming within 1,300 feet (400 meters) of the surface.
At its base, the volcano is approximately 30 miles (50 kilometers) across. The peak contains a depression known as a caldera that is 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide.
"That indicates that the mountain is being fed by its own magma chamber," said Armann Hoskuldsson, a University of Iceland volcanologist. "It's a higher magma production that generates the edifice," he added.
The underwater mountain resembles Krafla, an active aboveground volcano in northeastern Iceland that contains a similar-size caldera, according to Hoskuldsson.
Krafla has erupted 29 times in recorded history, most recently in 1984. Nobody knows when the undersea volcano might next erupt, but Hoskuldsson thinks it is only a matter of time.
"Still, the people of Iceland are in no danger because the volcano is so deep under water," he said. "We wouldn't expect much to happen on the surface," he added.
Next year, Hoskuldsson's team plans to dive to the mountain with a small submarine to gather more clues as to why such a large volcano exists along the ridge.