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
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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