The sound of slowing lava is music to the ears of a volcanologist. Echoing belches and burps can help reveal what is going on in the belly of the volcano.
Listening to the Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii allowed researchers to track the temperature of magma and their migration as volcanic gases bubble to the surface.
These findings about the famous volcanic eruption of 2018 have revealed some surprises.
“This is a new look at the dynamics of a really popular volcano.” Says Leaf Carlstrom, a geologist at the University of Oregon.
“People can stand on the edge of the lava lake and visit the lava flows coming out. But there’s a lot going on under the surface.”
For 10 years between 2008 and 2018, the Kīlauea Volcano The mild eruptions of lava were felt continuously.
Then, all of a sudden, two dozen vents above the eastern fissure zone erupted, and springs of molten rock were thrown into the air.
The silence continued for years after the explosion. Until September 2021When the lava began to soak again.
It is often said that Klauea The most active volcano in the world, Most of that conflict comes from within the Halemauma crater. The crater sits on top of the volcano and fills with lava.
Lake Lava is thought to be constantly rising through the underground chamber of magma. But how that deep dynamic works is still unknown.
By placing seismic sensors around the crater, researchers hope to penetrate the fiery hot abyss.
The technique they use is similar to hearing the sound it makes when tapped on a half-filled bottle. Like the bottle, the vibrations emanating from the volcano depend on its contents.
“Once something physically disturbs the magma chamber or the lava lake, it spins around and we can measure it with seismometers.” Explaining Josh Crozier, a geophysicist at the University of Oregon.
“During the eruption of this decade, we found tens of thousands of such cases. We are combining this data with a model based on the physics of the processes that make up these signals.”
Researchers are not yet sure what the sounds mean, but they hope to study Kilauea’s ‘tune’ so they can better predict when the volcano will erupt.
The team was able to track bubbling gas and changing temperatures over eight active years, without taking any direct measurements of the lava lake.
Oddly enough, just before the 2018 eruption, the authors did not notice any signs of magma flowing into the lava lake.
The temperature and chemistry of Lake Lava were relatively stable in 2018. There were no significant changes before the explosion.
This means that, as scientists once thought, it was not the arrival of magma that caused the eruption.
Instead of feeding the underground magma chamber until the lava lake reaches the required high pressure, it seems that the eruption actually occurred from the reverse process.
The lava appears to have flowed out of the main system and spread eastwards through a 10 km long underground tunnel. This is what caused the major eastern fissure eruption Was ultimately destroyed 700 houses and more than 2000 people were evacuated.
the above: A simple prototype of Kilauea’s magma system that feeds the 2018 Lower East Rift Zone eruption.
Kilauea may be one of the most well-studied volcanoes in the world, yet its plumbing is still a mystery.
Researchers have not yet fully understood the true nature of the volcano’s lava, its fissure region, or its underground magma sources.
The deep echoing sounds of lava will one day help us to hear what we cannot see.
The study was published in Scientific progress.
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