11 Jul 2005

Underwater volcano discovery in American Samoa

8:56 pm on 11 July 2005

A US geophysicist says a newly discovered part of an underwater volcano in American Samoa has toxic substances.

Scientists have just returned from an expedition to the Vailulu'u crater to research a new submarine volcano growing inside, called Nafanua.

Stanley Hart from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says scientists are unsure what the toxic chemical was but took water samples from the area for further research.

"Further out in the old part of the crater that wasn't buried in this new cone located mostly at the bottom at about 1000 meters deep, and that zone was completely devoid of all life so we called it the Crater of Death. The only things we found growing there were tiny scavenger worms and the area was littered with small dead fish."

Stanley Hart says scientists predict the new underwater volcano, which is growing at a phenomenal rate, will form another island in the Samoa chain within 15 years.