The more than 1 billion tons of lava that spewed into the Pacific last summer from the eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano triggered an algae superbloom offshore that initially puzzled scientists.
There are no nutrients contained in Kilauea’s lava. But Southern California and Hawaii scientists found that as the lava flowed deep into the coastal waters off the Big Island, its heat caused nitrates, silicic acid, iron and phosphate nutrients to rise from the deep, fueling the algae growth on the surface.
Pacific Hot Blob
The unusually hot sea-surface temperatures that caused algae blooms and sea lion deaths in the Pacific several years ago are back.
The “hot blob” is basically caused by unusually weak winds, which typically don’t stay weak for long. But they have this summer, and lingering heat from the last warming seems to be amplifying the current outbreak.
Oceanographers say that if the hot water stays around for a long time, it will begin to penetrate deeper into the Pacific, increasing its influences on marine life.