A time-lapse study of Kick em Jenny underwater volcano

Kick em Jenny (KeJ) volcano was first discovered in 1939 when a 300m column of ash and dust was spotted rising from the ocean by inhabitants on the northern shore of Grenada. This eruption would later be tied to a volcanic cone, located ~8km off of the northern coast of the island and less than 200m beneath the sea surface. Over the following decades KeJ would show itself to be remarkable even in a region as volcanically active as the Lesser Antilles. Not only is it the island arc’s only known active submarine volcano, but seismometers have recorded recurring volcanic activity more than once a decade.

Fig.1 Perspective view of swath bathymetry data showing active venting (bubbles within the water column) emerging from KeJ's cone in April 2017.

The research was inspired by two new precision bathymetric surveys of the volcano made during 2016 and 2017 from the NERC research ship R.R.S. James Cook (Fig.1). These surveys were designed to identify any changes in the volcanic cone following activity recorded on local seismometer networks in July 2015 and April 2017. We combined this with a number of legacy data sets inorder to describe the evolution of the cone through 5 volcanic episodes over more than 30 years.

The most famous submarine volcanoes are those that lead to the formation of new islands, such as the eruption of Surtsey in Iceland in the 1960’s. However, rather than a growing cone the surveys show significant mass-wastage in the form of frequent landslides in recent decades. Although some parts of the cone have grown and collapsed with regularity the volume of freshly erupted material involved is comparatively small, preventing KeJ from growing any closer to the ocean surface.

Comparison with recent studies of other global submarine volcanos has shown that similar, frequent, small volume landslides may be a fundamental mechanism in the long-term evolution of active submarine volcanoes.


Allen, R. W., C. Berry, T. Henstock, J. S. Collier, F. J.-Y. Dondin, A. Rietbrock, J. Latchman and R. E. A. Robertson (2018). "30 years in the life of an active submarine volcano: A time-lapse bathymetry study of the Kick-‘em-Jenny Volcano, Lesser Antilles." Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. DOI.  See here for the Press Release.

Berry, C. (2017). A time lapse study of the Kick 'em Jenny volcano, and an evaluation of its potential hazards. (Masters thesis). Imperial College London. Available via Research Gate. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.25489.12645


  • Rob Allen (PhD student)
  • Cameron Berry (MSci student, Graduated)

External collaborators 

  • Tim Henstock (Southampton University)
  • Richie Robertson (SRC, University of West Indies)