Island of Guam - A submarine volcano, expelling torrents of lava and toxic gases, has surprised scientists by the rich biodiversity it harbors.
The study of these extreme ecosystems could help scientists understand how marine organisms might adapt to the growing ocean acidification due to global warming.
After 3 years of repeated eruptions, the cone of the volcano is now 40 meters high and 300 meters wide. Despite living more than rushing, shrimp, crabs, barnacles and limpets were able to multiply on the flanks of the volcano called NW Rota-1.
"They are specially adapted to their environment and thrive in an environment that is chemically toxic to marine life forms of traditional," said Bill Chadwick, volcanology at the University of Oregon.
The sea water is alkaline, but the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere is reflected also in the oceans. In seawater, this gas gives rise to carbonic acid, which is responsible for acidification of the oceans. This can have fatal consequences for some species of fish or shellfish, their eggs or larvae.
"The submarine volcanoes are places where you can understand how life has adapted to grow in a particular acid," concludes Bill Chadwick.