(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull affected over 100,000 travelers and created the largest air travel disruption since World War II. The eruptions themselves, however, can be considered small when compared to the eruptions from Las Cañadas volcanic caldera in the Canary Islands. Even the weakest one was 25 times more powerful than Eyjafjallajökull , and now scientists seem to have found out what triggers them.
After examining crystal cumulate nodules, Dr Rex Taylor, a Senior Lecturer in Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton, and his team concluded the it was the mixing of hot magma into cooler, older magma that preempted many of the Las Cañadas eruptions.
"These nodules are special because they were ripped from the magma chamber before becoming completely solid -- they were mushy, like balls of coarse wet sand. Rims of crystals in the nodules grew from a very different magma, indicating a major mixing event occurred immediately before eruption. Stirring young hot magma into older, cooler magma appears to be a common event before these explosive eruptions," says Dr. Taylor.
The Las Cañadas volcanic caldera in Tenerife has been responsible for at least eight major eruptions over the last 700,000 years, with some of them spreading over 80 miles and going 15.5 miles high.
The team is studying the Las Cañadas volcanic caldera because it is of violent history and proximity to human population.
"Our findings will prove invaluable in future hazard and risk assessment on Tenerife and elsewhere. The scale of the eruptions we describe has the potential to cause devastation on the heavily populated island of Tenerife and major economic repercussions for the wider European community," says Dr. Gernon, from the National Oceanography Centre at Southampton's waterfront campus.
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Read the study in Scientific Reports.
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