Harnessing the energy is an entirely different question.
Underwater volcanic eruptions release enormous amounts of energy, forming undersea rivers of lava and dispersing massive clouds of ash.
Now, scientists have found a new way to calculate just how much energy is being released after each explosion by looking at how volcanic rock fragments known as "tephra" get launched across the sea for miles, Vice reports — enough energy, they say, to power the entire United States.
As detailed in a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications this week, the scientists discovered that the underwater eruptions release a massive amount of energy.
"Our results constrain the rate of energy release (or power) and show that during the eruption the power output is sufficient to run the US for that period of time, probably on the order of hours/days (however long it lasts—we don’t know precisely)," co-author David Ferguson from the University of Leeds, UK, wrote Vice in an email.
Unfortunately, to actually make use of all that energy is an entirely different question. These plumes occur far away from the shore and deep beneath the surface, making them near impossible to reach, let alone harness.
"I would say there is effectively zero chance of capturing the energy for all sorts of reasons, such as we don’t know when or where the eruptions will happen, very tricky to access, etc," Ferguson told Vice. "The point of the comparison was really just to illustrate how powerful/energetic these things are."
More on underwater volcanoes: Scientists Find Source of Bizarre Worldwide Humming Noise