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lava flow sonar image

New ocean floor

More than two-thirds of Earth’s crust is created along seafloor spreading ridges, yet scientists rarely have a chance to observe the process is action. An event along the East Pacific Rise in 2006 provided researchers with a rare opportunity to observe what happens in the immediate aftermath of an eruption. The team used multibeam sonar to compile this topographic map of a portion of the ridge where the eruptions occurred. The black line shows the extent of the eruption — new lava flow stretched more than 18 km (11 miles) long and up to 3 km wide. (Image courtesy of Adam Soule, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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