An international study led by Monash scientists has found that volcanoes experience stress. The study, published today in Scientific reports, matters about how the world can be better protected against future volcanic collapses.
Volcanic collapse is the worst case scenario during volcanic crises. It can cause dangerous tsunamis or devastating pyroclastic flows (such as Mount St. Helens).
“But these events are very difficult to predict because we often do not know what is happening in active volcanoes and what forces can make them unstable,” said study lead author Dr. Sam Thiele, a recent doctor of science. graduated from Monash University School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment.
“Research on the growth of volcanoes helps us understand these internal processes and the associated forces that can cause a deadly collapse or eruption,” he said.
The research team used drones to create a cm-resolution map of the internal structure of an already dormant La Palma volcano in the Canary Islands and measured the width of the 100,000 cracks through which magma flows during past eruptions.
This allowed them to assess the forces acting in the volcano and to show that they are slowly accumulating over time, causing the volcano to become “stressed” and potentially unstable.
By measuring the width of the cracks in the volcano through which the magma was transported, they were able to estimate the forces involved, which helps predict future volcanic eruptions.
The geological features that the research team maps are formed when molten penetrations, called dikes, solidify to form a frame inside what is otherwise a relatively weak structure, comprising mostly layers of lava and ash.
“This is one of the first studies to look at the long-term effects of magma movement in a volcano,” said study co-author Professor Sandy Kruden of the University School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University.
“We have found that volcanoes are gradually becoming ‘stressed’ by the repeated movement of this magma, potentially destabilizing the entire volcano, affecting future collapses and eruptions,” he said.
What is hidden under a volcano?
Samuel T. Thiele et al. Dyke’s openings register an accumulation of stress during prolonged volcanism, Scientific reports (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-020-74361-w
Provided by Monash University
Quote: Tense volcanoes are more likely to collapse and erupt (2020, October 16), extracted on October 17, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-stress-out-volcanoes-collapse -erupt.html
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