Volcanoes that have erupted for millennia in a certain way have the capacity to undergo unexpected changes
We all know the basics of volcanoes. These are spots on the earth’s crust from which molten rock, volcanic ash and some gases can escape from an underground chamber. Molten rock is called magma when it is below the ground and washes when it erupts and can start to sink on the Earth’s surface. Volcanoes are generally classified as active, dormant, and extinct, depending on their activity.
This is well known and is part of our manuals. Corn a group of scientists revealed in 2020 some explosive secrets that volcanoes have hitherto hidden deep below. They were able to show that volcanoes with consistent eruptions actually hide chemically diverse magma underground with the potential to generate explosive activity as well.
Study two Galapagos volcanoes
They did this by studying two Galapagos volcanoes that erupted lava flows of uniform composition throughout their lives. But after studying the compositions of the microscopic crystals in the lavas, the reconstructed characteristics of the magmas were contrary to expectations.
Unlike the monotonous lavas that erupted at surface level, the magmas were extremely diverse, including compositions similar to the most violent volcanic eruption in history. This implies that volcanoes that have erupted for millennia in some way actually have the capacity to undergo unexpected changes.
Help with hazard assessment
This is important to know because the risk assessment and evacuation models currently in use have worked under certain assumptions. By realizing that just because a volcano has erupted in a particular way in the past does not necessarily mean that it will continue to do so indefinitely in the future, we can better assess the risks it poses.