They reveal that a volcanic eruption mechanism is similar to launching a toy rocket

They reveal that a volcanic eruption mechanism is similar to launching a toy rocket
They reveal that a volcanic eruption mechanism is similar to launching a toy rocket

A team of researchers has discovered a new volcanic eruption mechanism, similar to that of a toy rocket that is launched by stepping on an air pocket connected to a small hose, following the study of the dynamics that governed 12 explosions of the volcano. Hawaiian Kilauea, in 2018.

Understanding how past volcanic eruptions have occurred is essential to making more accurate future forecasts, better warning the population, and saving lives.

The discovery, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, describes how the increase in pressure in the volcano’s underground reservoir, as the crater was collapsingwas what caused the Kilauea gas and rock explosion in 2018.

The researchers, from the University of Oregon, the US Geological Survey and China’s Sichuan University, watched the volcano’s magma slowly drain into an underground reservoir on Kilauea before each summit explosion.

As the magma reservoir was depleted, the ground inside the caldera suddenly collapsed, increasing the pressure in the tank which caused the expulsion of gases and rocks through the vents of Kilauea crater.

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The researchers compare the dynamics of this new eruption mechanism to a toy rocket, in which stepping on an air bag connected to a hose launches a projectile into the air.

The ‘stomp’ would be exerted, in this case, by that entire piece of rock from the volcanic caldera, a kilometer thick that falls downwards, pressurizes the bag and forces the volcanic material upwards,” explains one of the authors, Josh Crozier, a researcher at the University of Oregon in a statement from this university.

The ‘rocket’, in the case of the volcano, would be the gas and rocks that come out.

“Caldera collapse is quite common, but until now we had not described this stomp-rocket mechanism, which must have been frequent in eruptions,” Crozier points out.

In most cases, explosive volcanic eruptions They are caused by the rise of magma, the vaporization of groundwater, or a combination of both.

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However, the eruptive material from the Hawaiian volcano contained very little fresh magma and no trace of groundwater, so scientists suspected that there was a different mechanism behind its eruption.

Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth and one of those with the oldest flows (some dating back 300 thousand years).

It is also one of the most monitored and studied, since the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, part of the United States Geological Survey, has it completely covered with Scientific instrumentsfrom ground sensors that measure the slightest shock to all kinds of tools that instantly analyze each gas it emits.

The lava rivers from its 2018 eruptions, analyzed for this researchdestroyed thousands of homes and displaced Hawaii Island residents for months.

Its last eruption, so far, took place last September 2023.

(With information from EFE)

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