Undersea Volcano Erupts in Pacific 'Ring of Fire'
It's not yet a threat to islanders, animal life
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 19, 2009 8:20 AM CDT
An undersea volcano erupts off the coast of Tonga, tossing clouds of smoke, steam and ash thousands of feet (meters) into the sky above the South Pacific ocean.   (Trevor Gregory)
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(Newser) – Scientists sailed today to inspect an undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga—shooting smoke, steam, and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the South Pacific ocean. The eruption doesn't pose any danger to islanders at this stage, authorities say, and there have been no reports of fish or other animals being affected.

Spectacular columns are spewing out of the sea about 6 miles from the southwest coast off the main island of Tongatapu, an area where up to 36 undersea volcanoes are clustered. Police are waiting for the scientists' report and no warnings have been issued yet. Tonga, a 170-island archipelago about halfway between Australia and Tahiti, is part of the tumultuous Pacific "ring of fire," an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile to Alaska.