VOLCANOLOGY

Reservoir assembly drives super-eruptions

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  19 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6203, pp. 1464
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6203.1464-h

Geyser remnant of the Heise volcanic super-eruption

PHOTO: © JEFF VANUGA/CORBIS

Volcanic super-eruptions are hundreds to thousands of times larger than nearly any volcanic eruption that has occurred in recorded human history. Woltzlaw et al. looked for clues about what triggers these unimaginable events in minerals that formed in volcanic rocks. They analyzed zircons from the last super-eruption of the now-extinct Heise volcanic field and found that erupted magma was stored underground for a surprisingly short time, only about 5000 years. Furthermore, magma production occurred in distinct batches, forming thin sheetlike structures called sills. When many sills located at different depths connect with each other, the magma quickly becomes more buoyant, which may trigger these massive eruptions.

Geology 10.1130/G35979.1 (2014).

Navigate This Article