by Staff Writers
Liverpool, UK (SPX) May 06, 2014
A new discovery in the study of how lava dome volcanoes erupt may help in the development of methods to predict how a volcanic eruption will behave, say scientists at the University of Liverpool.
Volcanologists at the University have discovered that a process called frictional melting plays a role in determining how a volcano will erupt, by dictating how fast magma can ascend to the surface, and how much resistance it faces en-route.
The process occurs in lava dome volcanoes when magma and rocks melt as they rub against each other due to intense heat. This creates a stop start movement in the magma as it makes its way towards the earth's surface. The magma sticks to the rock and stops moving until enough pressure builds up, prompting it to shift forward again (a process called stick-slip).
Volcanologist, Dr Jackie Kendrick, who lead the research said: "Seismologists have long known that frictional melting takes place when large tectonic earthquakes occur. It is also thought that the stick-slip process that frictional melting generates is concurrent to 'seismic drumbeats' which are the regular, rhythmic small earthquakes which have been recently found to accompany large volcanic eruptions.
"Using friction experiments we have shown that the extent of frictional melting depends on the composition of the rock and magma, which determines how fast or slow the magma travels to the surface during the eruption."
Analysis of lava collected from Mount St. Helens, USA and the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat by volcanology researchers from the University's School of Environmental Sciences revealed remnants of pseudotachylyte, a cooled frictional melt. Evidence showed that the process took place in the conduit, the channel which lava passes through on its way to erupt.
Dr Kendrick, from the University's School of Environmental Sciences, added: "The closer we get to understanding the way magma behaves, the closer we will get to the ultimate goal: predicting volcanic activity when unrest begins. Whilst we can reasonably predict when a volcanic eruption is about to happen, this new knowledge will help us to predict how the eruption will behave.
"With a rapidly growing population inhabiting the flanks of active volcanoes, understanding the behaviour of lava domes becomes an increasing challenge for volcanologists."
The research, published in Nature Geoscience, was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and involved the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, the University of Padova, the INGV-Rome in Italy and the Kochi Core Center, Japan.
University of Liverpool
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
When the Earth Quakes
A world of storm and tempest
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|