Indonesia’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi, erupted just two weeks ago, causing a spectacular red river of lava and scorching clouds of gas flowing 9,850 feet (3 km) along. its slopes. Although no casualties were reported, the sounds of the explosive eruption were audible 18 miles (30 km) away – serving as a timely reminder of the unimaginable power of these events.
Understanding which of the world’s 1,500 potentially active volcanoes will erupt is important for many reasons.
Human settlements have sprung up around volcanoes due to their fertile soils, exciting tourism potential, and geothermal energy production.
However, it remains extremely difficult to predict when and how the average 50 annual volcanic eruptions will occur.
Geophysicists are increasingly aware of how several factors are involved when assessing exactly how dangerous a volcano is.
READ MORE: Yellowstone volcano sign indicates ‘intention to erupt again’ as experts probe ‘a large’
Obviously, where a volcanic eruption occurs is important, as an eruption that takes place in a remote area is of less concern than an eruption in a populated area – as immediate evacuation may be required.
Knowing where a volcano will erupt from is one thing, but knowing when it will erupt is another.
Although there is a relationship between the frequency of rashes and their size, with large rashes occurring very rarely compared to smaller ones, the lack of reliable data makes it difficult to examine the processes that control the frequency and magnitude of the rashes. eruptions.
Professor Luca Caricchi, University of Geneva, said: “When you go back into the geological records, (the traces) many eruptions disappear due to erosion.”
The largest and most active volcano in Europe, each year spews enough lava to fill a skyscraper.
And tens of millions of tons of lava and seven million tons of carbon dioxide, water, and sulfur dioxide are produced by Etna every year.
Geologists recognize 700,000-year-old Vesuvius – aka Mount Etna – as the second most active volcano in the world, after Mount Kilauea in Hawaii.
The cause of the almost continuous eruption of Vesuvius is its location between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.
The most recent eruption of Mount Vesuvius occurred just five years ago, leaving 12 people injured.
Mount St Helens:
The slimy magma is known to be bottled inside the pressure cooker at Mount St Helens, which is now thought to ominously surface to form a lava dome.
William Rose, professor of geology at Michigan Technological University, recently said in a statement: âThe gas emission rate from St Helens is very high and suggests that significant amounts of magma are on the surface. “
However, Donald Peterson, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) scientist in charge of the Mount St Helens project, warned that experts really don’t know what to expect.
He said: âMount St Helens has a large repertoire. He’s likely to do everything he’s done in the past, but he might come up with some new acts as well. “
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred about 100 km northeast of Mount Pinatubo on Luzon Island in the Philippines in 1990.
At Mount Pinatubo, this major earthquake triggered landslides, earthquakes, and several very hot steam plumes from a pre-existing geothermal area – but the volcano did not appear otherwise disturbed.
However, over the next few months, magma spat to the surface more than 20 miles below Pinatubo.
This, in turn, led to other earthquakes and violent steam explosions eventually detonated three craters on the northern flank of the Pinatubo volcano.
While another catastrophic eruption in Yellowstone remains theoretically possible, USGS scientists are increasingly convinced that it will one day recur on the apocalyptic scales of its predecessors.
The rhyolite magma chamber beneath Yellowstone is considered only 5-15% melted, while the rest is solidified but still hot.
This hopefully means that it’s highly unlikely that there is now enough magma beneath the caldera to fuel another epic super-eruption.
If Yellowstone were to erupt again, it wouldn’t necessarily be an explosion on a devastating scale.