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.

Related Articles


Researchers visiting the Puyehue-Cord๓n 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 ฐC, 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-Cord๓n 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 Cord๓n 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 November 24, 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 November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) — The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) — First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) 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