Monday, July 21, 2008

Icelandic Volcanoes Help Researchers Understand Potential Effects Of Eruptions

ScienceDaily (July 17, 2008) — For the first time, researchers have taken a detailed look at what lies beneath all of Iceland’s volcanoes – and found a world far more complex than they ever imagined.
They mapped an elaborate maze of magma chambers - work that could one day help scientists better understand how earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in Iceland and elsewhere in the world.
Knowing where magma chambers are located is a key first step to understanding the chemical composition of the molten rock that is flowing within them - and of the gases that are released when a volcano erupts, explained Daniel Kelley, doctoral student in earth sciences at Ohio State University.
Kelley and Michael Barton, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State, have determined that the volcanoes in Iceland are likely to have explosive eruptions that shoot debris far into the atmosphere. That’s because the magma moves very quickly to the surface from deep within the magma chambers. Fast-moving magma propels sulfur and ash out of a volcano and high into the atmosphere, where it can spread around the planet.