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Discovery Magazine 1/1/2011

Underwater Volcanoes

There are an estimated 1,500 land volcanoes around the world. When most people consider these lava-ejecting openings in the Earth, they think of such well-known land volcanoes as Mount Saint Helens in Washington State, Mount Fuji in Japan, or Mount Vesuvius in Italy. The fact is, however, many underwater volcanoes also exist.

Loihi, for example, is an underwater volcano about 20 miles southeast of the island of Hawaii. It is one of the world’s most famous “submarine” volcanoes, which had its last major eruption in 1996. Although Loihi’s peak is 10,000 feet abovethe seafloor, it is still 3,000 feet below sea level.

About 2,500 miles northeast of Loihi lies another underwater volcano, known as the Axial Seamount. The seamount is settled about 300 miles off Oregon’s coast. It rises about 3,600 feet above the surrounding seafloor and is more than 4,500 feet below sea level. Its only known eruption was in 1998. The fact is, there are thousands of underwater volcanoes all across the globe, and they account for roughly 80% of all the volcanic activity on Earth.

So what do underwater volcanoes have to do with the Flood of Noah’s day? When the Bible says in Genesis 7:11 that the Flood began “when the windows of heaven were opened,” it also states that “on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up.” Considering that water (H20) in the form of steam is the main gas that is expelled from volcanoes, it is reasonable to conclude that the breaking up of “all the fountains of the great deep” is a reference to major geologic activity, namely volcanic eruptions. In these worldwide, underwater eruptions, steam would have ruptured from the seafloor for several weeks (Genesis 8:2), drastically heating the oceans and raising the sea levels.

Eventually, there was so much H20 on Earth that even the highest mountains were covered (Genesis 7:19-20). Indeed, “the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:6), much of which came forth when “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up.”



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