Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Seek Suspected Magma Chamber Below Active Volcano

29.04.2005


A group of international researchers plans to use studies by land and by sea to determine the size and shape of an underground magma chamber beneath an active volcano, which will help improve the ability to assess hazards and forecast volcanic events.



“We can look at changes on the surface and infer what is happening at depth, but we don’t know the physical dimensions,” said Glen Mattioli, professor of geosciences at the University of Arkansas.

Mattioli and colleagues from Penn State University, Duke University, Cornell University, the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., and from England, have extensively studied the Soufriere Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean, which has been erupting sporadically since 1995. To date, they have focused their attention on the processes occurring beneath the earth’s surface both before and during eruption episodes – building knowledge that may help build better forecast models for areas with active volcanoes.


Based on years of data, the researchers believe they have detected a magma chamber that lies beneath the volcano. Determining the size and contents of the magma chamber would go a long way toward helping researchers determine the future behavior of the volcano. A small magma chamber, for instance, may produce shorter or fewer eruptions than a large magma chamber.

The researchers have obtained funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Natural Environmental Research Council to coordinate sensors already in place on the island with sensors used at sea to create an image of the magma chamber, estimated to be more than five kilometers beneath the surface. The project builds on the NSF-supported CALIPSO (Caribbean Andesitic Lava Island Precision Seismo-geodetic Observatory) project, which funded the installation of four high-sensitivity borehole seismic stations around the Soufriere Hills Volcano to measure ground deformation with strainmeters, tiltmeters, and cGPS. The stations enable researchers to take detailed measurements of volcanic activity.

The new experiment, dubbed SEA-CALIPSO (for Seismic Experiment with Air-gun source) will use air guns and a string of sensors off the back of a research ship combined with sensors on land to try to image the magma chamber. The air guns will create seismic waves that will reverberate through the earth. As the seismic waves propagate, a certain percentage of the energy created is reflected and can be measured by the sensors. The direction of that energy is related to the properties of the material the waves pass through, and based on the direction, scientists can determine if the material is gas, liquid or a combination of liquids and solids. The researchers also can use the speed of the waves to determine information about temperatures, which can help pinpoint whether or not the material in the magma chamber is liquid, solid, gas or a combination of the three. The researchers map the speed and direction of the various waves to get an image of the shape and contents of any underground chambers.

The experiment will require a large number of sensors in a small amount of space.
“We’re looking for something that’s pretty small,” Mattioli said. Estimates of the size of the magma chamber are between one kilometer to tens of kilometers in diameter.

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. They work closely with researchers at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory to help improve their ability to assess hazards and forecast events for the benefit of public safety.

| newswise
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle
25.04.2017 | Rice University

nachricht New atlas provides highest-resolution imagery of the Polar Regions seafloor
25.04.2017 | British Antarctic Survey

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>