March 19, 2003 – A scientific party from the University of the Virgin Islands is among researchers now conducting a comprehensive study of the submarine volcano named Kick 'em Jenny, which is located five miles north of Grenada.
The study is headed by Haraldur Sigurdsson of the University of Rhode Island and facilitated by Douglas Wilson of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and John Shepherd of the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Unit in St. Augustine, Trinidad.
Kick 'em Jenny was first noticed in 1939 and has erupted 11 times since then, most recently in December 2001. The submarine volcano is a source of moderate concern for emergency planners in the Eastern Caribbean. Fears that a tsunami generated by a major eruption could damage Caribbean coastal communities have prompted close monitoring of the volcano by the Seismic Research Unit. This monitoring and some research are funded in part by the Caribbean Development Bank.
The current study is taking place aboard NOAA's newest large research vessel, the Ronald H. Brown, which was used for UVI's Anegada Climate Tracers Study (ACTS) last year. (See "New NOAA vessel is lab for UVI researchers".)
The UVI team now aboard the Ronald H. Brown is led by Kevin Brown, research specialist with the UVI Center for Marine and Environmental Sciences. The team includes UVI student Leukemia Nikina Mounce and UVI research consultants Lincoln Critchley and Celeste Mosher, both recent UVI marine science graduates.
UVI research equipment also is contributing to the study. A CTD (for conductivity-depth-temperature) measuring instrument was lowered to the volcano last week and is being utilized in tandem with the Remote Observing Vehicle, or ROV, that is providing high-quality imaging of the volcano.
Working with Kent Fanning of the University of South Florida, UVI faculty member Roy Watlington and Brown hope to be able to establish how much inorganic nutrient silica is discharged into the water column by the submarine volcano.
During the research vessel's approach to Kick 'em Jenny last week, seawater samples were collected for later analysis by Fanning. Samples also were taken during deployment of the ROV. Correlating the silica concentration in seawater to volcanic activity may improve scientists' understanding of the dynamics as a submarine volcano comes to life.
Twice in 1996 and again in 2002, UVI teams participated in NOAA's studies of the volcano. (See "Tsunami experts eyeing volcano off Grenada".) Data from the July 1996 acoustic survey resulted in a UVI-generated image of the volcano which was featured in an article co-authored by Watlington, NOAA's Wilson and others which appeared in the scientific journal Marine Geophysical Researches this year.
Sigurdsson may be remembered in the Virgin Islands for a presentation he made in 1996 to an audience on St. Thomas. In the UVI-sponsored lecture he told of his perilous 1989 descent into the crater of the volcano in a small submarine.
Earlier news releases and more information about Kick 'em Jenny are available at the UWI Seismic Research Unit Web site.

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