New trigger for volcanic eruptions discovered using jelly and lasers

1 Jul

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Scientists have made an important step towards understanding how volcanic eruptions happen, after identifying a previously unrecognised potential trigger.

An international team of researchers from the University of Liverpool, Monash University and the University of Newcastle, including UON’s Dr David Boutelier, think their findings could lead to new ways of interpreting signs of volcanic unrest measured by satellites and surface observations.

Dr Janine Kavanagh, from the University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences and lead author of the research paper, said: “Understanding the triggers for volcanic eruptions is vital for forecasting efforts, hazard assessment and risk mitigation.

“With more than 600 million people worldwide living near a volcano at risk of eruptive activity, it is more important than ever that our understanding of these complex systems and their triggering mechanisms is improved.

“There is also a strong economic incentive to understand the causes of volcanic activity – as demonstrated in 2010 by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, which caused air-traffic disruption across Europe for more than one month, with an estimated US$1.8 billion loss in revenue to the airline industry.”

Studying volcanic processes in nature can be challenging because of the remoteness of many volcanoes, the dangers to scientists wanting to study destructive eruptions up close, and the fact that they are often obscured from direct observation by volcanic ash or rock.

Read the full story here.

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