Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Giant 'balloon of magma' inflates under Santorini's volcano

Date:
September 9, 2012
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
The chamber of molten rock beneath Santorini's volcano expanded 10-20 million cubic meters -- up to 15 times the size of London's Olympic Stadium -- between January 2011 and April 2012, according to a new survey. The growth of this 'balloon' of magma has seen the surface of the island rise 8-14 centimeters during this period, the researchers found.

Aerial view of Nea Kameni island, Santorini showing the rugged shape of the island formed by lava flows during eruptions over the past 500 years; the photo is about 1 km across.
Credit: Image by NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility

The chamber of molten rock beneath Santorini's volcano expanded 10-20 million cubic metres -- up to 15 times the size of London's Olympic Stadium -- between January 2011 and April 2012, according to a new survey carried out by an international team led by Oxford University and including a scientist from the University of Bristol.

Related Articles


The research is reported in this week's Nature Geoscience.

The growth of this 'balloon' of magma has seen the surface of the island rise 8-14 centimetres during this period, the researchers found. The results come from an expedition, funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council, which used satellite radar images and Global Positioning System receivers (GPS) that can detect movements of Earth's surface of just a few millimetres.

The findings are helping scientists to understand more about the inner workings of the volcano which had its last major explosive eruption 3,600 years ago, burying the islands of Santorini under metres of pumice. However, it still does not provide an answer to the biggest question of all: 'When will the volcano next erupt?'

In January 2011, a series of small earthquakes began beneath the islands of Santorini. Most were so small they could only be detected with sensitive seismometers but it was the first sign of activity beneath the volcano to be detected for 25 years.

Following the earthquakes Michelle Parks, an Oxford University DPhil student, spotted signs of movement of Earth's surface on Santorini in satellite radar images. Oxford University undergraduate students then helped researchers complete a new survey of the island.

Michelle Parks of Oxford University's Department of Earth Sciences, an author of the paper, said: "During my field visits to Santorini in 2011, it became apparent that many of the locals were aware of a change in the behaviour of their volcano. The tour guides, who visit the volcano several times a day, would update me on changes in the amount of strong smelling gas being released from the summit, or changes in the colour of the water in some of the bays around the islands.

"On one particular day in April 2011, two guides told me they had felt an earthquake while they were on the volcano and that the motion of the ground had actually made them jump. Locals working in restaurants on the main island of Thera became aware of the increase in earthquake activity due to the vibration and clinking of glasses in their bars…."

Co-author, Dr Juliet Biggs of the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences said: "People were obviously aware that something was happening to the volcano, but it wasn't until we saw the changes in the GPS, and the uplift on the radar images that we really knew that molten rock was being injected at such a shallow level beneath the volcano. Many volcanologists study the rocks produced by old eruptions to understand what happened in the past, so it's exciting to use cutting-edge satellite technology to link that to what's going on in the volcanic plumbing system right now."

Co-author Professor David Pyle of Oxford University's Department of Earth Sciences, said: "For me, the challenge of this project is to understand how the information on how the volcano is behaving right now can be squared with what we thought we knew about the volcano, based on the studies of both recent and ancient eruptions. There are very few volcanoes where we have such detailed information about their past history."

The team calculate that the amount of molten rock that has arrived beneath Santorini in the past year is the equivalent of about 10-20 years growth of the volcano. But this does not mean that an eruption is about to happen: in fact the rate of earthquake activity has dropped off in the past few months.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michelle M. Parks, Juliet Biggs, Philip England, Tamsin A. Mather, Paraskevi Nomikou, Kirill Palamartchouk, Xanthos Papanikolaou, Demitris Paradissis, Barry Parsons, David M. Pyle, Costas Raptakis, Vangelis Zacharis. Evolution of Santorini Volcano dominated by episodic and rapid fluxes of melt from depth. Nature Geoscience, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1562

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Giant 'balloon of magma' inflates under Santorini's volcano." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120909150348.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2012, September 9). Giant 'balloon of magma' inflates under Santorini's volcano. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120909150348.htm
University of Bristol. "Giant 'balloon of magma' inflates under Santorini's volcano." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120909150348.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) A scuba diving Santa Claus explored the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dive shop owner Spencer Slate makes the dive each year to help raise money for charity. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins