The Atlantic

The Mystery of 'Venus's Hair' After a Volcanic Eruption

How do long, white filaments grow out of barren rock?
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

In the summer of 2011, earthquake swarms started hitting the Canary Islands off the African coast. The ocean belched up sulfur, staining the water yellow and green. Fish died. Seawater bubbled over like a jacuzzi. Smoking lava balloons leapt from the roiling surface.

These violent events were all hallmarks of an erupting underwater volcano, which over 138 days blanketed the seafloor with newly formed volcanic rock.

By the time a group of Italian and Spanish scientists sailed to the Tagoro Volcano in 2014, things had quieted

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min read
The Fury of the Prep-School Parents
An elite-college education is one of the few expensive things that is for sale, but that not everyone is allowed to buy.
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: And Then There Were 10
Tomorrow there will be ... 10 more Democratic 2020 candidates sharing a debate stage. Plus: How a home-goods company got tangled up in the migrant-detention crisis.
The Atlantic10 min readSociety
Tracing the Internal Queer Revolution
Riots and parades have made LGBTQ people visible. But a new anthology of writings from before, during, and after Stonewall shows the inward changes as more essential.