A few years ago there was a warm blob of SST that appeared in the northeast Pacific ocean which caused quite a stir at the time. Well it seems that the blob has returned, but this time the area of anomalous SST are in the south Pacific east of New Zealand. I just love the reason for why this warm blob has appeared given in the Guardian Article given by James Renwick the expert on the subject. He says it’s probably due to a strong anticyclone and light winds. I am no expert but I find that very difficult to accept that insolation on its own could have caused the SST to rise by 5 or 6°C above the LTA.
What caused the warm blob?
So what else could it be? Well not too far away from the warm blob is something we non-experts like to call the “Pacific rim of fire”, and although the Pacific ocean may well be over 20,000 feet deep there, could it be caused by intense volcanic activity from the plate tectonics on the ocean floor or just below it? Who knows, the subterranean tectonic plates around the world could take a deep belch of water from the oceans from time to time and then just push it out in a huge plume of superheated water?
There is constant seismic activity around all the world’s tectonic plates, but there are a couple of things that have happened recently in that part of the world that caught my attention.
White Island erruption
The nearby volcanic island of Whakaari or White Island in the Bay of Plenty erupted on the 9th of December 2019 killing 21 people. Whakaari sits right on top of the plate, and the phreatic eruption was no doubt triggered by pressure and movement from seismic activity from the tectonic plate.
Sea of pumice
Earlier this year in August I read an article about a raft of pumice that stretched for 7,500 square kilometres on the surface of the sea. It is believed that the pumice originated in an eruption on Late Island, an uninhabited volcanic island southwest of Vavaʻu in the kingdom of Tonga. I’m sure that similar things happen with water as well as in lava when superheated water from eruptions from much deeper subterranean volcanoes finds its way to the surface.