Dr Schellart's results from fluid dynamic models provide an alternative explanation for the existence of Mount Etna, its geological environment and evolution, as well as volcanism in the surrounding region.
His theory suggests that Mount Etna is not directly the result of tectonic plate boundary activity, but that it resulted from decompression melting of upper mantle material flowing around the nearby edge of the Ionian slab that is slowly sinking into the Earth's mantle.
"Most volcanism on Earth occurs at plate boundaries in places where tectonic plates move apart (e.g. Iceland) and in places where tectonic plates come together with one plate diving (subducting) below the other plate into the mantle (e.g. Pacific ring of fire)," Dr Schellart said. "For the latter scenario, the volcanoes form directly above the subducted plate."
However, Dr Schellart said some volcanism, appropriately named intraplate volcanism, occurs far from plate boundaries and its origin is more controversial.
"The chemistry of the volcanic rocks from Mount Etna and the nearby Iblean volcanics in Sicily and in the surrounding seas indicate that they are intraplate volcanics. Interestingly, the volcanics are located within a few hundred kilometres of, but are laterally offset from, the Calabrian subduction zone plate boundary, where the African plate sinks below the Eurasian plate," Dr Schellart said.
"This suggests that the volcanics are somehow related to the Calabrian subduction zone."
"New modelling of subduction and mantle flow confirms this, showing that backward sinking of the African plate at the Calabrian subduction zone induced flow around the southern edge of the subducted plate and upward below Sicily," he said.
"The upward flow induced decompression melting of upper mantle material and these melts extruded at the surface in Sicily, forming Mount Etna and the Iblean volcanics," Dr Schellart said.
Until now there had been many explanations for Mount Etna and that of the surrounding volcanics, but none had been able to explain the timing, origin and dynamics of the activity.
"That's why Mount Etna has remained a mystery for so long," Dr Schellart said.
"The new research provides a dynamic explanation and completes the puzzle," he said Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. The most recent ash explosion occurred in August of this year, producing an ash plume that rose 800 meters above the crater edge.
The research was recently published in the journal Geology.
For more information contact Samantha Blair, Media & Communications + 61 3 9903 4841 or 0439 013 951.
Samantha Blair | EurekAlert!
NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica
05.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering