On February 24, 2017, the ninth dive of the expedition, we explored Vailulu'u seamount, an active volcano lying in the eastern region of the Samoan hotspot.
Prior to our dive, the last visual survey of the volcano had taken place in 2005, but the seamount has been mapped since. Comparison of multibeam data collected in 2012 with new bathymetric data collected during this expedition show that the volcanic cone in the crater, called Nafanua, has grown substantially since the seamount was last mapped in 2012, having formed two distinct volcanic features.
The dive represented an exciting opportunity to observe a very dynamic environment both in terms of geology and biology. Much can be learned in terms of succession and how species colonize the seafloor over time.
Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa.