New research in to the history of a volcano could one day allow scientists to predict future eruptions.
University of Bristol's Kate Saunders and her team are focusing their efforts on Mount St. Helens, examining orthopyroxene crystal samples collected between 1980 and 1986 when the volcano last erupted. Different layers or "zones" within the crystals grow in concentric circles like tree rings, offering clues as to the time it took for each ring to form.
"Elements move between one zone and another to maintain equilibrium," said Saunders, "and we know how fast elements move in different crystals, so we can work out how long it took them to reach equilibrium."
"No one can forecast exactly when the next big volcanic eruption is going to happen."
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Source: Popular Mechanics
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