Taxonomy term

volcanic eruption

Kilauea eruptions could shift from mild to wild

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is famously effusive: Low-viscosity lava oozes out of the main caldera and two active rift zones along the southern shore of the Big Island. But scientists suspect that Kilauea’s eruptions haven’t always been so mild, and a new study is providing further evidence supporting that notion. In the past 2,500 years, at least two cycles of explosive eruptions lasting several centuries each have rocked the island. The switch from effusive back to explosive is likely to occur again, scientists say, but probably not anytime soon.
 

14 Oct 2014

Shallow crust magma with a dash of salt and peperite

Magma and salt are not often paired on the menu of geology. But, occasionally, the two do mix — with surprising results. Researchers explored these interactions in a new study, the first to examine how magma emplacement occurs in salt formations.

02 Oct 2014

Santiaguito Volcano's clockwork behavior provides an exceptional laboratory

If Earth breathes, Santiaguito Volcano in the Western Highlands of Guatemala could be its mouth. Roughly every half hour, like volcanic clockwork, Santiaguito’s active Caliente lava dome expands, filling with gas from depressurizing magma below. Then it exhales, often explosively, and deflates. Over the course of a day, you could almost keep time by it.

28 Sep 2014

New model predicts pumice drift patterns

In July 2012, the Havre volcano in the remote southwestern Pacific erupted, creating a raft of pumice that covered more than 400 square kilometers of ocean. Despite the raft’s massive size, the event went unreported for three weeks, until a passenger aboard a New Zealand-bound plane noticed the floating mass from above.
 

22 Aug 2014

Pompeii-like eruption fossilized dinosaurs in death poses

In A.D. 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted in Italy, burying the town of Pompeii and entombing its citizens in ash, which preserved their death poses for thousands of years. In northern China, a similar fate seems to have befallen dinosaurs, mammals and early birds. A new study, published in Nature Communications, sheds light on the preservation history of the Jehol Biota — an ancient ecosystem dating to between 130 million and 120 million years ago.

20 Jul 2014

Shifting winds blow away Taupo's 'Ultraplinian' title

The eruption of New Zealand’s Taupo volcano about 1,800 years ago is the stuff of legends. With an ash plume estimated to have reached an astounding height of 50 kilometers — substantially higher than any other known eruption — Taupo was once thought to justify its own volcanic explosivity category: Ultraplinian. But new research looking at the effects of changing wind patterns on the eruptive deposits left by Taupo may lead scientists to downgrade the event to Plinian, effectively making the term Ultraplinian obsolete.
 

01 Jul 2014

Magma mobilizes quickly beneath Mount Hood

In a recent study in Nature, researchers found that magma beneath Oregon’s Mount Hood spends minimal time in an eruptible state. Instead, magma remobilization and eruption occur within a short time frame. What this means for volcanic hazards in the Pacific Northwest has yet to be determined. 

10 Jun 2014

Warring trolls explanation for mysterious basalt pillars revised

Peculiar basalt pillars found in Iceland — attributed in local lore to a pair of angry trolls hurling projectiles at each other — are having their origin story updated. In a rare example of nonexplosive lava-water interactions occurring on land, the hollow pillars likely formed around vertical columns of steam and superheated water venting through lava as it flowed over saturated ground, according to a new study.

02 Feb 2014

Down to Earth With: Volcanologist John Eichelberger

The 2010 eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull showed that volcanic hazards are blind to international borders. After the eruption ended and air traffic returned to normal, discussion among the public of “ash” and “jet turbine blades” cooled. Not so for volcanologist John Eichelberger, who, as the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Volcano Hazards Program Coordinator, deals with volcanic hazards daily, while working to improve monitoring of the United States’ many dangerous volcanoes and to internationalize research and risk reduction

13 Aug 2012

Benchmarks: June 10, 1886: New Zealand’s Mount Tarawera erupts

On June 10, 1886, Mount Tarawera on New Zealand’s North Island erupted catastrophically, killing more than 100 people. With few warning signals, the explosive basaltic eruption caught many people by surprise as it rocked the mountain, forming fissures that extended for 17 kilometers into the adjacent Lake Rotomahana and Waimangu Valley. 
 
04 Jun 2012

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