Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unique sighting of lava solves mystery

Date:
November 7, 2013
Source:
Lancaster University
Summary:
Scientists have made the first ever observations of how a rare type of lava continues moving almost a year after a volcanic eruption.

The lava flow steaming after rain.
Credit: Image courtesy of Lancaster University

Scientists have made the first ever observations of how a rare type of lava continues moving almost a year after a volcanic eruption.

Researchers visiting the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in Chile in January this year found the obsidian lava flow was still moving, even though the volcano stopped erupting in April 2012.

The research by an international team of scientists, led by Dr Hugh Tuffen and Dr Mike James from the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University, is published in Nature Communications.

Obsidian lava is very thick and can barely flow, moving more like a glacier. This type of lava, rich in silica, forms a natural glass called obsidian when it cools and solidifies. This volcanic glass slowly inches forward as a thick, shattering crust of black rock that covers the oozing lava within.

Dr Tuffen said: "We found out that the lava was still oozing after almost a year and it advances between 1 and 3 metres a day. Although it moves slowly, it could speed up or collapse if it were to reach a steep hill, and The team, which included Professor Jon Castro from the University of Mainz and Dr Ian Schipper from the Victoria University of Wellington, also made new discoveries about how the obsidian lava flows, pointing the way towards a new model of how lavas advance.

Dr Tuffen said: "It looks like a solid cliff of crumbling rock up to 40 metres thick, that's as thick as ten double-decker buses, but we found that hidden beneath this crust there is hot, slowly-flowing lava, at up to 900 °C, which can burst out of the edges of the lava flow and help it move forwards. This was previously thought to only occur in hot red flowing or basalt lava, but we have found that thick obsidian lava is actually pretty similar to its runnier cousins."

Although seldom seen, obsidian lava can be erupted at the end of some of the largest and most explosive eruptions on Earth, including supervolcanoes such as Yellowstone and the largest eruption of the 20th century, at Katmai in Alaska. However, the most recent opportunities to see obsidian lava moving have been the last three eruptions at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in Chile in 2011, 1960 and 1921. Obsidian from lava flows is strewn over many archaeological sites worldwide, as it was long a highly-prized and traded material used for knives, arrowheads and cutting tools. It still has surgical applications due to its remarkably sharp cutting edges.

Dr Tuffen is funded by the Royal Society.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWPEfn5l--Q

http://youtu.be/dWPEfn5l--Q


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Hugh Tuffen, Mike R. James, Jonathan M. Castro, C. Ian Schipper. Exceptional mobility of an advancing rhyolitic obsidian flow at Cordón Caulle volcano in Chile. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3709

Cite This Page:

Lancaster University. "Unique sighting of lava solves mystery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107132755.htm>.
Lancaster University. (2013, November 7). Unique sighting of lava solves mystery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107132755.htm
Lancaster University. "Unique sighting of lava solves mystery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107132755.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

AFP (Sep. 12, 2014) — In June 2013, 10 foreign mountaineers and their guide were murdered on Nanga Parbat, an iconic peak that stands at 8,126m tall in northern Pakisan. Duration: 02:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — The Ozone layer is recovering thickness! Hooray! But in helping its recovery, we may have also helped put more greenhouse gases out there. Hooray? Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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