Watch out for the Sharkcano! What happens when an underwater volcano erupts? | Sharks


Name: Sharkcano.

Age: The first recorded eruption of Kavachi, a submarine volcano, was in 1939, but it’s almost certainly been around longer than that.

You’d think someone would have noticed. True, but it is underwater.

Cool. Which water? The south-west Pacific Ocean, near Vangunu island in the Solomon Islands. Kavachi, one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the Pacific, has erupted at least eight times since 1939, often forming new islands of lava that erode after a few months and disappear beneath the waves.

Like Atlantis? Different cultural references. Kavachi is named after a local sea god and also known as Rejo te Kavachi, or Kavachi’s oven. But the same kind of idea, yes, except that Kavachi is very much real.

And is it about to erupt again? You got it. Pictures captured on 19 May by Landsat, the Nasa and US Geological Survey satellite, show massive underwater plumes spewing from the volcano.

Where do the sharks come into the story? Sharks, sharks, we want sharks! Listen up, because this is where it gets really interesting. In 2015, National Geographic researchers exploring the volcano discovered marine life in the active crater, including two species of sharks: silky sharks and hammerheads.

No way! How can they survive in such hot, acidic conditions? It’s also cloudy. It has baffled scientists, who think the sharks must have adapted to survive.

Oh my God, ninja mutant sharks – it gets better and better. But what happens when Kavachi blows? Well, I guess we’ll see. Maybe the sharks know and move out, or perhaps they go up too. That’s why Kavachi has also become known as …

Sharkcano! Exactly, like Sharknado. And potentially a brand-new cult sci-fi series, (Kavachi’s) oven-ready and served up on a plate. Although this time it’s based on truth: sci-fact.

What, you mean Sharknado never actually happened? A tornado didn’t flood Los Angeles with shark-infested seawater, and various other cities as the comedy-horror series continued? Well …

But Sharkcano’s going to happen, right? Deadly sharks raining down on the nations of the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, most probably Hawaii too … Well, so far residents of nearby islands have witnessed only steam and ash, plus the odd lump of pumice in the water. Plus, silky sharks and hammerheads have been involved in only a few attacks on humans, none of which were fatal.

Yeah, but remember these ones have almost certainly mutated into maneaters. OK, for the purposes of the inevitable movie franchise: Sharknado alert, level five!

Do say: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Don’t say: “Mmm, shark fin soup, ready-made.”