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Posts Tagged ‘magma chamber’

Growing Magma Chamber Discovered Under Bay of Plenty, NZ

Posted by feww on June 4, 2016

Significant ground deformation detected in Bay of Plenty due to estimated 200 million m³ of magma buildup 

The discovery is said to be related to thousand of earthquakes that struck the town of Matata, Bay of Plenty  between 2004 and 2011, and caused a 40-cm uplift in a 20km² area around the town.

The Bay of Plenty (BOP) region [area: 12,230 km2] located in North island, New Zealand has a population of about 287,500. Tauranga [pop: 100,000+] the most populous city in BOP, lies about 50 km west of the uplift.

Champagne Pool is a lake in Rotorua, one of New Zealand’s most active volcanic regions.
Credit: Colin Monteath/Minden/NGC [Non-commercial, educational use.]

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Yellowstone eruption may cover 60 pct of US: FEWW

Posted by feww on December 14, 2009

The next cataclysmic event at Yellowstone supervolcano could cover about  60 percent of the continental US in volcanic materials —Fire Earth


Yellowstone’s Plumbing Exposed

Plume Slants NW; Magma Body Bigger than Thought

Dec. 14, 2009 – The most detailed seismic images yet published of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano shows a plume of hot and molten rock rising at an angle from the northwest at a depth of at least 410 miles, contradicting claims that there is no deep plume, only shallow hot rock moving like slowly boiling soup.

A related University of Utah study used gravity measurements to indicate the banana-shaped magma chamber of hot and molten rock a few miles beneath Yellowstone is 20 percent larger than previously believed, so a future cataclysmic eruption could be even larger than thought.

Seismic imaging was used by University of Utah scientists to construct this picture of the Yellowstone hotspot plume of hot and molten rock that feeds the shallower magma chamber (not shown) beneath Yellowstone National Park, outlined in green at the surface, or top of the illustration. The Yellowstone caldera, or giant volcanic crater, is outlined in red. State boundaries are shown in black. The park, caldera and state boundaries also are projected to the bottom of the picture to better illustrate the plume’s tilt. Researchers believe “blobs” of hot rock float off the top of the plume, then rise to recharge the magma chamber located 3.7 miles to 10 miles beneath the surface at Yellowstone. The illustration also shows a region of warm rock extending southwest from near the top of the plume. It represents the eastern Snake River Plain, where the Yellowstone hotspot triggered numerous cataclysmic caldera eruptions before the plume started feeding Yellowstone 2.05 million years ago. Photo Credit: University of Utah

The study’s of Yellowstone’s plume also suggests the same “hotspot” that feeds Yellowstone volcanism also triggered the Columbia River “flood basalts” that buried parts of Oregon, Washington state and Idaho with lava starting 17 million years ago.

Those are key findings in four National Science Foundation-funded studies in the latest issue of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. The studies were led by Robert B. Smith, research professor and professor emeritus of geophysics at the University of Utah and coordinating scientist for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

“We have a clear image, using seismic waves from earthquakes, showing a mantle plume that extends from beneath Yellowstone,” Smith says.

The plume angles downward 150 miles to the west-northwest of Yellowstone and reaches a depth of at least 410 miles, Smith says. The study estimates the plume is mostly hot rock, with 1 percent to 2 percent molten rock in sponge-like voids within the hot rock.

Some researchers have doubted the existence of a mantle plume feeding Yellowstone, arguing instead that the area’s volcanic and hydrothermal features are fed by convection – the boiling-like rising of hot rock and sinking of cooler rock – from relatively shallow depths of only 185 miles to 250 miles.

A cross section of the plume of hot and molten rock that tops out about 50 miles beneath Yellowstone National Park and tilts downward to the northwest to a depth of at least 410 miles. The plume is mostly hot rock with about 1 to 2 percent molten rock. Researches believe “blobs” of hot rock slowly detach from the top of the plume and rise upward to recharge the magma chamber that lies from 3.7 to 10 miles beneath Yellowstone. The chamber is also mostly hot rock, but with a sponge-like structure containing about 8 to 15 percent molten rock. Photo Credit: University of Utah

The Hotspot: A Deep Plume, Blobs and Shallow Magma

Some 17 million years ago, the Yellowstone hotspot was located beneath the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada border region, feeding a plume of hot and molten rock that produced “caldera” eruptions – the biggest kind of volcanic eruption on Earth.

As North America slid southwest over the hotspot, the plume generated more than 140 huge eruptions that produced a chain of giant craters – calderas – extending from the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada border northeast to the current site of Yellowstone National Park, where huge caldera eruptions happened 2.05 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago.

These eruptions were 2,500, 280 and 1,000 times bigger, respectively, than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The eruptions covered as much as half the continental United States with inches to feet of volcanic ash. The Yellowstone caldera, 40 miles by 25 miles, is the remnant of that last giant eruption.

The new study reinforces the view that the hot and partly molten rock feeding volcanic and geothermal activity at Yellowstone isn’t vertical, but has three components:

  • The 45-mile-wide plume that rises through Earth’s upper mantle from at least 410 miles beneath the surface. The plume angles upward to the east-southeast until it reaches the colder rock of the North American crustal plate, and flattens out like a 300-mile-wide pancake about 50 miles beneath Yellowstone. The plume includes several wider “blobs” at depths of 355 miles, 310 miles and 265 miles.”This conduit is not one tube of constant thickness,” says Smith. “It varies in width at various depths, and we call those things blobs.”
  • A little-understood zone, between 50 miles and 10 miles deep, in which blobs of hot and partly molten rock break off of the flattened top of the plume and slowly rise to feed the magma reservoir directly beneath Yellowstone National Park.
  • A magma reservoir 3.7 miles to 10 miles beneath the Yellowstone caldera. The reservoir is mostly sponge-like hot rock with spaces filled with molten rock”It looks like it’s up to 8 percent or 15 percent melt,” says Smith. “That’s a lot.”

Researchers previously believed the magma chamber measured roughly 6 to 15 miles from southeast to northwest, and 20 or 25 miles from southwest to northeast, but new measurements indicate the reservoir extends at least another 13 miles outside the caldera’s northeast boundary, Smith says.

He says the gravity and other data show the magma body “is an elongated structure that looks like a banana with the ends up. It is a lot larger than we thought – I would say about 20 percent [by volume]. This would argue there might be a larger magma source available for a future eruption.”

Images of the magma reservoir were made based on the strength of Earth’s gravity at various points in Yellowstone. Hot and molten rock is less dense than cold rock, so the tug of gravity is measurably lower above magma reservoirs.

The Yellowstone caldera, like other calderas on Earth, huffs upward and puffs downward repeatedly over the ages, usually without erupting. Since 2004, the caldera floor has risen 3 inches per year, suggesting recharge of the magma body beneath it.

How to View a Plume

Seismic imaging uses earthquake waves that travel through the Earth and are recorded by seismometers. Waves travel more slowly through hotter rock and more quickly in cooler rock. Just as X-rays are combined to make CT-scan images of features in the human body, seismic wave data are melded to produce images of Earth’s interior.

The study, the Yellowstone Geodynamics Project, was conducted during 1999-2005. It used an average of 160 temporary and permanent seismic stations – and as many as 200 – to detect waves from some 800 earthquakes, with the stations spaced 10 miles to 22 miles apart – closer than other networks and better able to “see” underground. Some 160 Global Positioning System stations measured crustal movements.

By integrating seismic and GPS data, “it’s like a lens that made the upper 125 miles much clearer and allowed us to see deeper, down to 410 miles,” Smith says.

The study also shows warm rock – not as hot as the plume – stretching from Yellowstone southwest under the Snake River Plain, at depths of 20 miles to 60 miles. The rock is still warm from eruptions before the hotspot reached Yellowstone.

A Plume Blowing in the 2-inch-per-year Mantle Wind

Seismic imaging shows a “slow” zone from the top of the plume, which is 50 miles deep, straight down to about 155 miles, but then as you travel down the plume, it tilts to the northwest as it dives to a depth of 410 miles, says Smith.

That is the base of the global transition zone – from 250 miles to 410 miles deep – that is the boundary between the upper and lower mantle – the layers below Earth’s crust.

At that depth, the plume is about 410 miles beneath the town of Wisdom, Mont., which is 150 miles west-northwest of Yellowstone, says Smith.

He says “it wouldn’t surprise me” if the plume extends even deeper, perhaps originating from the core-mantle boundary some 1,800 miles deep.

Why doesn’t the plume rise straight upward? “This plume material wants to come up vertically, it wants to buoyantly rise,” says Smith. “But it gets caught in the ‘wind’ of the upper mantle flow, like smoke rising in a breeze.” Except in this case, the “breeze” of slowly flowing upper mantle rock is moving horizontally 2 inches per year.

While the crustal plate moves southwest, the warm, underlying mantle slowly boils due to convection, with warm areas moving upward and cooler areas downward. Northwest of Yellowstone, this convection is such that the plume is “blown” east-southeast by mantle convection, so it angles upward toward Yellowstone.

Scientists have debated for years whether Yellowstone’s volcanism is fed by a plume rising from deep in the Earth or by shallow churning in the upper mantle caused by movements of the overlying crust. Smith says the new study has produced the most detailed image of the Yellowstone plume yet published.

But a preliminary study by other researchers suggests Yellowstone’s plume goes deeper than 410 miles, ballooning below that depth into a wider zone of hot rock that extends at least 620 miles deep.

The notion that a deep plume feeds Yellowstone got more support from a study published this month inicating that the Hawaiian hotspot – which created the Hawaiian Islands – is fed by a plume that extends downward at least 930 miles, tilting southeast.

A Common Source for Yellowstone and the Columbia River Basalts?

Based on how the Yellowstone plume slants now, Smith and colleagues projected on a map where the plume might have originated at depth when the hotspot was erupting at the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada border area from 17 million to almost 12 million years ago.

They saw overlap, between the zones within the Earth where eruptions originated near the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada border and where the famed Columbia River Basalt eruptions originated when they were most vigorous 17 million to 14 million years ago.

Their conclusion: the Yellowstone hotspot plume might have fed those gigantic lava eruptions, which covered much of eastern Oregon and eastern Washington state.

“I argue it is the common source,” Smith says. “It’s neat stuff and it fits together.”

Smith conducted the seismic study with six University of Utah present or former geophysicists – former postdoctoral researchers Michael Jordan, of SINTEF Petroleum Research in Norway, and Stephan Husen, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology; postdoc Christine Puskas; Ph.D. student Jamie Farrell; and former Ph.D. students Gregory Waite, now at Michigan Technological University, and Wu-Lung Chang, of National Central University in Taiwan. Other co-authors were Bernhard Steinberger of the Geological Survey of Norway and Richard O’Connell of Harvard University.

Smith conducted the gravity study with former University of Utah graduate student Katrina DeNosaquo and Tony Lowry of Utah State University in Logan.

PDF files of the new studies may be downloaded from:

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Posted in Columbia River, flood basalts, Geothermal Research, Snake River Plain, Yellowstone National Park | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Soputan volcano erupts

Posted by feww on June 8, 2008

Lava from Mount Soputan flows 2 km from crater

Indonesia’s Vulcanology Survey raised alert level for Soputan volcano located on Sulawesi island to level IV, the highest level, after it began ejecting hot lava and clouds of ash. Pyroclastic flows were extending about 2 km from Mount Soputan’s summit, but haven’t reached the foot of the mountain.

The authorities placed a 6-km exclusion zone around the volcano. Climbers are not allowed in the danger zone which also covers camping areas in the eastern part of the mountain about 4 km from the summit. According to a report, 6 volcanic earthquakes struck Mount Soputan on June 6.

People from a district in Minahasa look at columns of ash spewed from Mount Soputan, in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province June 6, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer. Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!

“Stronger explosion may happen, which can emit dangerous materials from the crater,” Saut Simatupang, head of Indonesia’s Vulcanology Survey said.

The volcano has been erupting since Friday, spewing ash and debris to a height of about 2 km and covering an 8-km radius area around the crater.

“There is no need to displace the villagers. The frequency of the eruption has decreased since 2 a.m. Saturday,” he said.

Although no casualties have been reported, an eye witness in the village of Molompar in the Tombatu subdistrict in Southeast Minahasa, reported that a number of houses in Lobu, Silian, and Tombatu villages had collapsed as a result of volcanic ash deposits that had accumulated on the roofs.

Mount Soputan, a stratovolcano, is one of Indonesia’s 130 or so active volcanoes, which previously erupted 24–30 October 2007. In a 2004 eruption lava extended its southwest slope, but no fatalities were reported.

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Volcanoes, Santorini Eruption and Crops Failure in China

Posted by feww on May 14, 2008

*** Breaking News: May 19, 2008 Philippines Taal Volcano Could Erupt Anytime!

A New Era of Intense Volcanic Unrest May Have Begun

Where Could The Next Supervolcanic Eruption Occur?

1. Pico del Teide?
2. Mauna Loa?
3. Mount Vesuvius?

4. Mount Rainier?
5. Taal?
6. Thera?


A volcano is an opening in a planet’s crust that allows ash, gases and molten rock to escape from below the surface.

Volcanoes are generally found where tectonic plates converge or divrge. A mid-oceanic ridge, for example the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, has examples of volcanoes caused by “divergent tectonic plates” pulling apart; the Pacific Ring of Fire has examples of volcanoes caused by “convergent tectonic plates” coming together.

Author:MesserWoland via Wikimedia Commons.This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license versions 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0

Cross-section through a stratovolcano:

1. Large magma chamber ◊ 2. Bedrock ◊ 3. Conduit (pipe) ◊ 4. Base ◊ 5. Sill ◊ 6. Branch pipe ◊ 7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano ◊ 8. Flank ◊ 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano ◊ 10. Throat ◊ 11. Parasitic cone ◊ 12. Lava flow ◊ 13. Vent ◊ 14. Crater ◊ 15. Ash cloud

Eruption Types

There are many different kinds of volcanic activity and eruptions: phreatic eruptions (steam-generated eruptions), explosive eruption of high-silica lava (e.g., rhyolite), effusive eruption of low-silica lava (e.g., basalt), pyroclastic flows, lahars (debris flow) and carbon dioxide emission. All of these activities can pose a hazard to humans. Earthquakes, hot springs, fumaroles, mud pots and geysers often accompany volcanic activity. (Source)

Image by USGS

The concentrations of different volcanic gases can vary considerably from one volcano to the next. Water vapor is typically the most abundant volcanic gas, followed by carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Other principal volcanic gases include hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen fluoride. A large number of minor and trace gases are also found in volcanic emissions, for example hydrogen, carbon monoxide, halocarbons, organic compounds, and volatile metal chlorides.

Large, explosive volcanic eruptions inject water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), hydrogen chloride (HCl), hydrogen fluoride (HF) and ash (pulverized rock and pumice) into the stratosphere to heights of 16–32 kilometres (10–20 mi) above the Earth’s surface. (Source)

Decade Volcanoes

The Decade Volcanoes are 16 volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. The Decade Volcanoes project encourages studies and public-awareness activities at these volcanoes, with the aim of achieving a better understanding of the volcanoes and the dangers they present, and thus being able to reduce the severity of natural disasters. They are named Decade Volcanoes because the project was initiated as part of the United Nations sponsored International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. (Source)

The 16 current Decade Volcanoes

Mount St. Helens shortly after the eruption of May 18, 1980

1 km steam plume ejected from Mount St. Helens photo taken by USGS on May 19, 1982 [Mount St. Helens is located in Skamania County, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.]

Mount St. Helens is most famous for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, which was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 24 km of railways, and 300 km of highway were destroyed. The eruption caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 2,950 to 2,550m and replacing it with a 1.5 km-wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 2.9 km³ in volume (VEI = 5). (Source)

A large eruption at Mount Etna, photographed from the International Space Station

Mount Etna, Sicily . Last Eruption 2007. [Photo Credit: Josep Renalias, via Wikimedia commons]
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

Koryaksky Volcano seen in the background. Last Eruption: 1957. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version. See file detail.

Cleveland Volcano in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska photographed from the International Space Station.

Mount Nyiragongo volcano, Virunga Mountains, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [The main crater is 250 m deep, 2 km wide and sometimes contains a lava lake. Nyiragongo and nearby Nyamuragira are together responsible for 40% of Africa’s historical volcanic eruptions. (Source: USGS) Last Eruption: 2008 (continuing)

The three summits of Mount Rainier: Liberty Cap, Columbia Crest, and Point Success [Last Eruption 1854]

The snow-capped summit of Pico del Teide in December 2004 – Active but dormant volcano, Tenerife, Canary Islands. Last eruption 1909. Photo: M. D. Hill. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

An aerial photo of Vesuvius. last Eruption 1944 [Author: Pastorius? Via Wikimedia Commons. ] This file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

Taal Volcano seen from across Taal Lake on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Last Eruption: 1977.

Supervolcanoes: Nature’s “Thermonuclear” Arsenal

Satellite image of Thera, November 21, 2000. The Minoan caldera is at the lower part of the image and formed in the Minoan eruption 1630 and 1600 BCE. The whole caldera is formed of three overlapping calderas.

The Minoan eruption of Thera, also referred to as the Thera eruption or Santorini eruption, was a major catastrophic volcanic eruption (VEI = 6, DRE = 60 km3) which is estimated to have occurred in the mid second millennium BCE. The eruption was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. The eruption destroyed most of the island of Thera, including the Minoan settlement at Akrotiri as well as communities and agricultural areas on nearby islands and on the coast of Crete. The eruption contributed to the collapse of the Minoan culture.

The eruption caused significant climatic changes in the eastern Mediterranean region, Aegean Sea and much of the Northern Hemisphere. There is also evidence that the eruption caused failure of crops in China, inspired certain Greek myths, contributed to turmoil in Egypt, and influenced many of the biblical Exodus stories. It has been theorized that the Minoan eruption and the destruction of the city at Akrotiri provided the basis for or otherwise inspired Plato’s story of Atlantis. (Source)

Volcanic craters on Santorini. This file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License [ photo: Rolfsteinar, via Wikimedia Commons]

Lake Taupo is a lake situated in the North Island of New Zealand. It has a perimeter of approximately 193km, a deepest point of 186 m and a surface area of 616 square km.

The lake lies in a caldera created following a huge volcanic eruption (see supervolcano) approximately 26,500 years ago. According to geological records, the volcano has erupted 28 times in the last 27,000 years. It has predominantly erupted rhyolitic lava although Mount Tauhara formed from dacitic lava.

The largest eruption, known as the Oruanui eruption, ejected an estimated 1,170 km³ of material and caused several hundred square kilometres of surrounding land to collapse and form the caldera. The caldera later filled with water, eventually overflowing to cause a huge outwash flood.

NASA satellite photo of Lake Taupo

Several later eruptions occurred over the millennia before the most recent major eruption, which occurred in 180 CE. Known as the Hatepe eruption, it is believed to have ejected 120 km³ of material, of which 30 km³ was ejected in the space of a few minutes. This was one of the most violent eruptions in the last 5,000 years (alongside the Tianchi eruption of Baekdu at around 1000 and the 1815 eruption of Tambora), with a Volcanic Explosivity Index rating of 7. The eruption column was twice as high as the eruption column from Mount St. Helens in 1980, and the ash turned the sky red over Rome and China. The eruption devastated much of the North Island and further expanded the lake. Unlike today, the area was uninhabited by humans at the time of the eruption, since New Zealand was not settled by the Māori until several centuries later. Taupo’s last known eruption occurred around 210 CE, with lava dome extrusion forming the Horomatangi Reefs. (Source)

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