SCIENCE IN PICS: Underwater Volcanic Vents

Epoch Times Staff
Created: October 29, 2011 Last Updated: October 29, 2011
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An underwater fumarole releasing bubbles of gas at Pulau Weh in Sumatra, Indonesia. (Matthew Oldfield)

An underwater fumarole releasing bubbles of gas at Pulau Weh in Sumatra, Indonesia. (Matthew Oldfield)

A fumarole is an opening in the Earth’s crust that emits steam and gases, such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, often in the vicinity of volcanoes. The steam is created when the pressure of superheated water drops as it emerges from the ground.

Fumaroles may occur along tiny or long fissures, in clusters or fields, and on the surface of lava flows and deposits. A fumarole field is an area of thermal springs and gas vents where magma at shallow depth releases gases or interacts with groundwater.

Pulau Weh lies at the most north westerly tip of Indonesia, where the Indian Ocean meets the Andaman Sea. The deep water and strong currents that sweep past the island provides perfect conditions for both large and small marine species.

The island has active volcanic vents that emit sulfurous gases and lies close to an active subduction zone.

Pulau Weh lies just off shore from Banda Aceh, the city that was devastated during the 2004 tsunami. However, damage on the island was minimal compared to the devastation on the mainland.

You can see a small fumarole bubbling underwater in this video.

Matthew Oldfield is a freelance photographer based in Bali, Indonesia, specializing in editorial and documentary images from both above and below the waves. He works primarily with charities, NGO’s, and other organizations working to conserve the environment, endangered species, and disappearing cultures.

Matthew is on Twitter @matthewophoto. More of his photos can be found at

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