Their model not only reaches some interesting conclusions, but also allows the researchers to make a prediction as to what the system will do over time.
Glen Mattioli, professor of geosciences at the University of Arkansas; Derek Elsworth and Barry Voight, professors at Penn State University; graduate student Joshua Taron of Penn State University and professor Richard Herd of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, published their findings Thursday, Oct. 9, in the journal Science.
“Nobody has done this before,” said Mattioli. “This methodology could be significant for volcanic systems elsewhere.”
For the first time, researchers have linked together measurements from satellite geodetic data obtained via the global positioning system and from lava flux, which indicates the volume of material emerging from the earth’s crust over time. They did so using 10 years of continuous data from the Soufrière Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation. This meant they were able to look at three different dome-building periods and the movements and magma flow that accompanied them.
The prolonged eruption on Montserrat, which began in 1995, drove away more than half of the island's 11,000 inhabitants, killed the tourism industry and buried the airport in a pyroclastic flow. The island has become a living observatory for researchers who want to learn more about active volcanoes.
The data suggest that two interconnected magma chambers lie beneath the surface of the volcano on Montserrat – one six kilometers below the surface and the other at 12 kilometers below the surface. They also show a link between surface behavior and the size of the deeper magma chamber.
“In pauses, the deep chamber is inflating. The shallow one is not doing much of anything,” said Mattioli, who teaches in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
The deep chamber grows in volume when there is no flux of material to the surface, and shrinks in volume when magma emerges on the earth’s surface; the upper chamber shows no such ties. This suggests that there must be some kind of valve mechanism operating between the upper and lower chambers, Mattioli said.
“We don’t yet understand why this valve exists and what may control when it opens and shuts,” Mattioli said. The next step will be to look for the physical mechanisms at work in the processes taking place between the chambers and the surface.
The researchers also determined that the flux into the base of the system, below the magma chambers, remained fairly constant over time – a few cubic meters of material per second. Therefore, it appears that the magma chambers, not the system base, drive the eruption cycle.
Because they have been able to examine the volcano through a decade of its eruptive cycle, the researchers were able to see volume changes in the lower magma chamber over time.
“Because we have all this data, we can make a prediction as to what is going on in the system as a function of time,” Mattioli said. The data follow a decay curve that has the scientists predicting that this particular volcanic cycle is coming to an end, if the system is not reinvigorated.CONTACTS:
Melissa Lutz Blouin | Newswise Science News
Wandering greenhouse gas
16.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System
14.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.03.2018 | Life Sciences