West Mata

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  • Country
  • Subregion Name
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 15.1°S
  • 173.75°W

  • -1174 m
    -3851 ft

  • 243130
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

13 May-19 May 2009

In early May, scientists from an NSF (RIDGE and MARGINS Programs) and NOAA (Ocean Exploration Program) sponsored cruise on the University of Washington vessel, the R/V Thompson, traveled to the Lau-Tonga region. This rapid-response expedition was undertaken after strong indications of submarine eruptive activity had been detected during a November 2008 NOAA Vents Program expedition. On 6 and 7 May, team members used the Jason 2 ROV to observe eruptions from two vents of West Mata, a small submarine volcanic cone in the northeast Lau Basin, about 200 km SW of Samoa. Explosive activity occurred from one end of a 5-m-long fissure at Hades vent, at a depth of 1,208 m, while pillow lavas erupted from the other end of the fissure. Glowing bubbles up to a meter in diameter also issued from the fissure. The Prometheus vent, a cinder cone located near the summit and about 100 m N of Hades, erupted explosively with nearly continuous lava fountains that ejected tephra into the water. Both vents were often obscured by sulfur gas emissions, but incandescence was visible for minutes at a time.

Source: NOAA Vents Program



 Available Weekly Reports


2009: May


13 May-19 May 2009

In early May, scientists from an NSF (RIDGE and MARGINS Programs) and NOAA (Ocean Exploration Program) sponsored cruise on the University of Washington vessel, the R/V Thompson, traveled to the Lau-Tonga region. This rapid-response expedition was undertaken after strong indications of submarine eruptive activity had been detected during a November 2008 NOAA Vents Program expedition. On 6 and 7 May, team members used the Jason 2 ROV to observe eruptions from two vents of West Mata, a small submarine volcanic cone in the northeast Lau Basin, about 200 km SW of Samoa. Explosive activity occurred from one end of a 5-m-long fissure at Hades vent, at a depth of 1,208 m, while pillow lavas erupted from the other end of the fissure. Glowing bubbles up to a meter in diameter also issued from the fissure. The Prometheus vent, a cinder cone located near the summit and about 100 m N of Hades, erupted explosively with nearly continuous lava fountains that ejected tephra into the water. Both vents were often obscured by sulfur gas emissions, but incandescence was visible for minutes at a time.

Source: NOAA Vents Program


Summary of eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
2008 Nov (in or before) 2009 May (in or after) Confirmed 0 Historical Observations Prometheus and Hades vents

The following references are the sources used for data regarding this volcano. References are linked directly to our volcano data file. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title. Additional discussion of data sources can be found under Volcano Data Criteria.

Rubin K H, Embley R W, Clague D A, Resing J A, Michael P J, Keller N S, Baker E T, 2009. Lavas from active boninite and very recent basalt eruptions at two submarine NE Lau Basin sites. Eos, Trans Amer Geophys Union, 89: Fall Meet Suppl, abstr V43I-05.

Smithsonian Institution-GVN, 1990-. [Monthly event reports]. Bull Global Volc Network, v 15-33.

West Mata, a submarine volcano rising to within 1174 m of the sea surface, is located in the northeastern Lau Basin at the northern end of the Tonga arc, about 200 km SW of Samoa. West Mata volcano lies about 7 km west of another submarine volcano, East Mata; both lie at the northern end of the Tonga arc, north of the historically active Curacoa submarine volcano. The two volcanoes were discovered during a November 2008 NOAA Vents Program expedition, and West Mata was found to be producing submarine hydrothermal plumes consistent with a recent or lava effusion. A return visit in May 2009 documented explosive and effusive activity from two closely spaced vents, one at the summit, and the other on the SW rift zone.