Washington, January 24: Turns out, tiny crystals, as small as a grain of salt, can be used to predict volcanic eruptions. A new study by the University of Queensland stated that the new information gathered during the research could lead to more effective evacuations and forewarning. University of Queensland's Volcanologist Dr. Teresa Ubide said "This could signal good news; for almost one in 10 people around the world who live within 100 km of an active volcano".
She added, "We haven't yet reached the 'holy grail' of being able to predict volcanic eruptions, but our research is a significant step forward in understanding the processes that lead to eruption".
Dr. Ubide from the University's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences department used a new laser technique to examine the composition of tiny crystals forming deep in volcanoes. The crystals being studied were created when molten rock, known as magma, from up to 30 km beneath a volcano starts to move upwards towards the Earth's surface.
She further noted, "The crystals are carried in the erupting magma, continuing to crystallize and change in composition on the way to the surface. These rocks effectively 'record' the processes that happen deep in the volcano right before the eruption starts". She also concluded that 90 percent of the time, when new magma arrived at depth, it could trigger an eruption within only two weeks.
With this study, volcanologists hope to work out how to monitor volcanic eruptions better which is very difficult to do as of now, as suggested by Dr. Ubide. She concluded, "We plan to apply the same approach to other volcanoes around the world, especially for countries neighbouring Australia like Indonesia and New Zealand".