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Twelve new volcanoes discovered in Alaska - and scientists expect to find more

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scientists have uncovered 12 new, active volcanoes in Alaska. Researchers say they may even be on track to discovering even more shortly. While this sounds vaguely ominous, with thoughts of sudden eruptions and evacuations, it turns out that many people have stood right on top of this new formations - and didn't even know it.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After years of hard work by scientists at the United States Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service, the United States can now count a dozen more of these volcanoes among its natural outdoor wonders.

Researchers point out that "mountainous" may not be the best way to describe these newly discovered volcanoes. In contrast to the sky-high tall strato-volcanoes in Alaska's southwest-like Pavlof, an extremely active peak that has made headlines for its volatility in recent weeks . many of these new discoveries are more like "volcanic piles" and are found on tiny islands and isolated coves.

These volcanoes have remained hidden in the state's untouched forests and hidden underneath coastal waters.

Following a trail of similar volcanoes, leading from the interior of Canada using their lava's chemical makeup, which they've found to be unique among various types of volcanoes, something like an organism's DNA.

Researchers tested a previously mapped volcanic pile and compared it to the makeup of a larger super-volcano from the Aleutian string of volcanoes to the west. When chemistry from the two turned out to be extremely divergent, scientists realized their "mini-volcanoes" were totally unrelated to their larger and showier counterparts.

"We realized we had a whole new kind of volcano," Susan Karl, a research geologist with the USGS project's leader said. Karl and her team began an expedition through the rugged terrain to find more evidence of these new volcanoes. Find it, they did - far more than what they anticipated.

"We're convinced now there's probably a whole bunch of green knobs out there covered with timber that may be vents that may have never been mapped," James Baichtal, a geologist with the U.S. Forest Service says.

Thus far, the team has found a dozen such vents. And the most recent one is underwater.

Despite the sprawling range of these newly discovered volcanic piles, scientists don't believe they pose much of a risk, due to a relative dearth of lava that's come out of the Canadian range in the last two million years and because of the volcanoes extremely far off location.

"Even though, theoretically, a volcano that erupted 120 years ago is an active volcano, but because it's so remote there isn't any real concern about it," Karl said.

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