Volcano 'seeded' Ocean Bloom

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Oct. 6 (UPI) — An Alaskan volcano that spewed iron-laden ash over the Pacific Ocean resulted in an “unprecedented” phytoplankton bloom, researchers say.

A study by the University of Victoria in British Columbia of the 2008 eruption of the Kasatochi volcano in the Aleutian Islands says it created an “ocean productivity event of unprecedented magnitude,” the largest phytoplankton bloom detected in the region since ocean surface measurements by satellite began in 1997, a university release said.

Phytoplankton are free-floating, single-cell plants that form the base of the marine food chain.

They take up carbon dioxide to grow, which has led some to advocate seeding key regions of the ocean with iron as one way to offset increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

But although the volcanic ash from Kasatochi fueled a massive phytoplankton bloom, it resulted in only a “modest” uptake of atmospheric CO2, University of Victoria oceanographer Roberta Hamme said.

“The event acts as an example of the necessary scale that purposeful iron fertilizations would need to be to have an impact on global atmospheric CO2 levels.”

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