gulf of mexico
scott evans
undersea volcano
May 22, 2014

Undersea Volcanoes


Maggie: Well, it is time to get your geek on! Today, we are checking out an unusual discovery made by researchers who were on the hunt for sunken ships off the coast of Texas. Scott Evans has the story.

Scott: What you are watching here is something no human has seen before.

Scientist: I’m just thrilled to death to be here.

Scott: A first look at the ocean floor almost 200 miles off the coast of Texas. Scientists using underwater robots are looking for shipwrecks.

Scientists: Yes! Yes! No way! You can see the roman numerals around the edge!

Scott: They found artifacts from three sunken ships.

Scientist: Yeah, I was able actually to look at some of that. That is a spectacular extrusion!

Scott: But they also found something else…something unexpected.

Thomas Heathman: It looked like a shipwreck, definitely. And then once we got down there, we see this structure that we’ve never seen before. Never seen anything like it in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Scientist: So, this is a very substantial asphalt volcanic structure.

Scott: They call it an asphalt volcano, possibly formed from natural tar blossoming out of the sea floor, solidifying as it hit the near-freezing water. A geological surprise.

Catherine Marzin: Everybody’s been surprised when we saw it. We expected a shipwreck, and here we saw what looked like a beautiful flower on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Scientist: That’s not something you find in the Gulf, as far as I know.

Scott: This live stream from the robot sends images to scientists and ocean lovers all over the country. During the three-week mission, cameras captured other natural wonders, like this Dumbo octopus, squat lobsters and sea cucumbers. It is part of the only federally funded program to explore the unknown ocean.

Fred Gorell: The ocean is critically important to understand and yet it’s 95% unexplored. And so we’re out there exploring.

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.

Maggie: Because of their unique shape, scientists have nicknamed asphalt volcanoes like this one, tar lilies.

If you want to learn more about how a volcano is made, make sure to head on over to and play our volcano-maker game.


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