In addition to producing hardened lakes of blobby lava, in places more than a mile across, the eruption changed the architecture of the region's seafloor hot springs. "There are more vents, they're higher temperature, and there are microbes living in them that are usually deep in the crust that come up to the surface in these events," Chadwick told OurAmazingPlanet. Eruption predicted The Axial Volcano rises 3,000 feet above the seafloor, the most active of a string of volcanoes along the Juan de Fuca Ridge, a plate boundary where the seafloor is slowly pulling apart. Chadwick and colleagues have been keeping tabs on the peak since it last erupted in 1998. Thanks to a monitoring system they developed to measure the mountain's minute movements, the team predicted the volcano was due for another eruption sometime between 2011 and 2014. "So for me, it's a very exciting thing that this worked!" Chadwick said.
Chadwick said scientists are still trying to figure out how seafloor volcanoes differ from their terrestrial counterparts. It could be it's easier to predict ocean eruptions, Chadwick said. It's possible that because the crust is thinner there, and magma is in ready supply, the mountains' slow inflations provide a good analogue for knowing when eruptions will occur. However, he cautioned that a single successful prediction wasn’t enough to forecast what the future holds. "At Axial, we've only seen this once, so we don't know for sure it's going to be reliable," Chadwick said. "So we'll certainly keep making these measurements, and hopefully be around to see what happens next."