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Underwater volcanos spew precious minerals into ocean

Fiji- South Pacific
Image: Multibeam sonar high-definition image of the bed of the Pacific Ocean between Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. (CSIRO)

Scientists have discovered two mineral-rich, active volcanos more than a kilometre under the sea near Fiji, with mining companies already lining up to try to exploit the sites. Measuring 50 kilometres wide by almost 4,000 metres tall, the volcanoes are bubbling away at 1,100 metres and 1,500 metres below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, in an area known as the North Lau Basin, between Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. They are within the Pacific rim of fire, an area of high earthquake activity, and are spewing into the sea black smoke containing precious minerals. The volcanoes are quite remarkable - "Some of the features look like the volcanic blisters seen on the surface of Venus." The two volcanoes have been named Dugong and Lobster. Though they are in a seismologically unstable area, the volcanoes are not likely to trigger a Tsunami. The real danger is not eruption but rather collapse. Any eruption though would be a hazard for the neighbouring Pacific nations. The black smoke pouring out of the calderas leaves behind minerals containing lead, zinc, copper and gold.

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