A Huge Volcano Just Erupted Next to the Deepest Place on Earth

A huge volcano hundreds of feet beneath the ocean's surface has started erupting next to the deepest point on Earth.

The Ahyi Seamount—a large submarine volcano—lies 449 feet deep in the Pacific Ocean below the Northern Mariana Islands, which are more than 3,700 miles west of Honolulu, Hawaii.

Satellite images show there to be discoloration at the surface of the ocean above Ahyi, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement. The remote area of the seamount makes its activity difficult to confirm.

But hydroacoustic sensors at Wake Island have detected signals "consistent with activity from an undersea volcanic source," strongly suggesting that Ahyi is rumbling to life.

Volcano eruption
A stock photo shows lava spewing from a volcano. An underwater volcano near the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean is believed to have erupted. AZ68/Getty

The underwater volcano is 124 miles from the Mariana Trench—the deepest oceanic trench on Earth—Matthew Haney, Research Geophysicist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory told Newsweek.

The trench is 36,069.6 feet below the ocean's surface, and is deeper than Mount Everest is tall (29031.69 feet). The crescent-shaped ditch in the Earth's crust is also 1,554 miles long, and 43 miles wide.

Trenches like this are formed when two tectonic plates collide. In the case of the Mariana Trench, the Pacific plate collided with the much smaller Philippine plate.

The volcano could have started erupting from mid-October, but again, the remoteness of the area has made it difficult to confirm, the USGS said in a statement. There are no monitoring stations near the seamount, meaning scientists are limited in their ability to assess the volcanic activity.

Researchers are not sure whether they will be able to get close enough to the seamount to see what is going on but they are continuing to monitor satellite imagery closely.

"Nothing is certain yet, but I have been included on some emails where scientists from NOAA were discussing going to Ahyi by ship to make observations, such as bathymetry [sea or lake depth] measurements," Haney said.

Although the level of volcanic unrest is not certain, ships would want to avoid the area.

It is not the first time activity has been detected from the Ahyi Seamount. Water discoloration has been observed in previous instances where the volcano rumbled to life.

The last eruption occurred on May 17, 2014. NOAA divers were conducting coral reef research nearby at the time, and reported hearing large explosions.

In the Mariana region, there are nine volcanic islands and more than 60 underwater volcanoes. Around 20 underwater volcanoes are considered active.

It is one of the most active volcanic areas in the world.