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Researchers Use Unconventional Tools to Study Effects of Volcanic Eruptions

Guess what researchers are using to study volcanic eruptions. You're right: glass-basaltic glasses, that is. Researchers Daniel Kelley, a doctoral student in earth sciences at Ohio State University, and Michael Barton, a professor of earth sciences at Ohio State, have taken a detailed look at what lies beneath all of Iceland's volcanoes to try and better understand the causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The new study was based on the analyses of basaltic glasses, which are volcanic rocks created when magma from deep within the Earth is cooled very quickly at the surface and becomes glass-like. Researchers traced the origins of the basaltic glass gathered from the surface of Iceland to magma chambers under 28 different volcanoes by analyzing the composition of the rocks and calculating the pressures at which the glass was formed.

"Most of the studies looking for magma chambers are done using seismic or satellite data to infer where a magma chamber might be," says Kelley. "But by analyzing the glass you have something that directly represents the liquid magma beneath the surface and gives you the exact location of the magma chamber."

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