Investigating an Underwater Volcano

Recently, I joined up with local up-and-coming researcher, Brennan Phillips, on an expedition to the remote waters of the Solomon Islands. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find great article on the work. A huge thank you goes to local legend Todd McLeish for writing the piece.

All images in this article are © Alex DeCiccio.

Before you delve into the written story, here are a few images from the project that may help contextualize the mission:


The South Pacific Ocean showcases some of the most active waters on earth. This is the normal sea state for our work site.


The Triton, one of the larger boats in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands, was our working platform. It may not look like it, but she was a very sturdy and solid ride.


Once we were close to Kavachi submarine volcano, our main work site, the conditions immediately changed, and your senses would quickly take notice. Invading our nostrils, a sulfur rich stench filled the air. The azure blue Pacific turned a deep, mustardy green before our eyes. The color, resulting from the constant release of mineral-rich gases, always let us know which way the current was moving.

IMG_7829 ©Alex Deccico

The Peava Villagers welcomed us as if we’ve lived there for years. They were our generous hosts for a few weeks – feeding us, teaching us, and nursing our sunburns with fresh-cut aloe. The people of Peava, like most in the Western Province, depend almost entirely on the land and sea for sustenance and their quality of life.


We did whatever we could to give back to the locals. Chief scientist, Brennan Phillips, presented our findings to a nearby village named Biche. The people of Biche can see Kavachi’s massive plumes billowing into the sky during large eruptions.


A local fisherman shows off the morning catch while posing next to a fish aggregating device (FAD). Sitting far behind him is a large, foreign logging ship in the middle of loading huge timbers from the over-arching mountains in the background. These ships do not usually come this far into Marovo Lagoon. Multiple villagers catch their food at the fish aggregating devices (FADs).


The Solomon Islands make up a uniquely beautiful country. The people of the Western Province live simpler lives than a huge majority of westerners, like us here in the US. Lives which are directly connected to, and virtually dependent on, nature. Both land and sea are seen as living things. The locals look to their soil and their lively depths with an instinctual connection. A connection focused on the balance between exploitation and sustainability.

Read the full GSO article here:

GSO Grad Student Investigates Underwater Volcano

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