New research has revealed a previously undiscovered magma chamber beneath Columbus Island An active underwater volcano in the Mediterranean Sea Near Santorini, Greece.
According to January 1, a group of international researchers used a new imaging technique for volcanoes that produces high-resolution images of seismic wave characteristics. Issue 12 from the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
The study was published in AGU’s journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, and the authors noted that the presence of the chamber “poses a serious threat because it could produce a highly explosive, tsunamigenic eruption in the near future.”
The researchers recommend real-time hazard monitoring stations near other active submarine volcanoes to improve estimates of when an eruption might occur.
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“The current state of the reservoir indicates that an explosive eruption of high public impact is likely (although not imminent) in the future, so we propose the establishment of a permanent observatory that includes permanent earthquake monitoring… and seabed geodesy,” – they wrote.
The indicated eruption will be similar to the last one, but on a smaller scale Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai eruptionbrought a predicted tsunami and an eruption column tens of kilometers high.
The study is said to be the first to use full-waveform inversion seismic imaging to look for changes in magmatic activity beneath the surface of submarine volcanoes along the Greek arc where the volcano is located.
The technology is applied to seismic profiles, or records of ground motions along kilometer-long lines and evaluates differences in wave velocities that may indicate subsurface anomalies. The team found that full-waveform inversion technology can be used in volcanic regions to find the potential locations, sizes and melting rates of mobile magma bodies.
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The seismic profiles were constructed after scientists fired an airgun aboard a research vessel sailing over the volcanic region, triggering seismic waves recorded by ocean floor seismometers located along the arc.
According to the study, a significant reduction in the speed of seismic waves traveling beneath the seafloor indicated the presence of a mobile magma chamber beneath Columbus, with characteristics of the wave anomalies used to better understand the potential hazards the magma chamber may present.
The images helped identify a large magma chamber that has since grown at an average rate of 4 million cubic meters per year. The last eruption of Columbus occurred in 1650 ADabout 400 years ago.
The last time Columbus erupted 70 people died in Santorini.
If the current growth rate of the magma chamber continues, sometime in the next 150 years, the volume of melt estimated to have been ejected during the 1650 AD eruption could reach 2 cubic kilometers, the study’s lead author noted.
Although it is possible to estimate the volume of volcanic melts, it is impossible to say exactly when Columbo, located at a depth of about 500 meters, will next erupt.
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“We need better information about what’s actually underneath these volcanoes,” said Kajetan Chrapkiewicz, a geophysicist at Imperial College London and lead author of the study. “Continuous monitoring systems will allow us to better predict when an eruption is likely to occur. With these systems, we would probably be alerted several days before an eruption occurred, and people could evacuate and stay safe.”
For the past few years, scientists have been working on the creation of SANTORY (Santorini’s Seabed Volcanic Observatory), which will be able to measure progress in the volcanic activity of Columbo. It is still under development.
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