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Eruption Gives Clues into Climate Change Effects on Marine Life July 13, 2012
El Hierro eruption from space
Vast amounts of volcanic debris have been spewed into the ocean surrounding the Canary Island eruption at El Hierro.
Scientists monitoring an emerging undersea volcano in the Canary Islands since it roared to life last year say the eruption has caused vast changes in the surrounding marine environment.

The eruption just south of the island of El Hierro killed or drove away all of the fish in the area and significantly altered the water’s chemical composition.

Scientists from the Spanish Institute of Oceanography say oxygen gas in the water decreased by 90 percent to 100 percent in places around the hot volcanic plumes as the water became more acidic.

Writing in the open-access journal Scientific Reports, Eugenio Fraile-Nuez and colleagues tell how some species have adapted to live in the new, challenging environment.

A community of carbon-eating bacteria sprang up in the deep, many of which glowed with bright green fluorescence.

While at the surface, other plankton appeared to adapt to the warmer waters and the new dissolved elements from the volcano such as copper.

Fraile-Nuez said that as oceans warm and take up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere under global warming, marine species are likely to undergo similar adaptions, though not necessarily on the same scale.

Photo: NASA