Crystals Can Help Predict Volcano Eruptions, Scientists Say
Scientists dissecting the remains of the disastrous 1980 explosion of Mt. St. Helens in Washington state say that crystal formations trapped in volcanic rocks hold important clues about when a magma-loaded mountain is about to blow — a discovery that could help volcanologists make more accurate predictions about future eruptions.
The findings, published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, link the movement of underground magma to earthquakes, gas emissions and other warning signs that are more accessible to experts who monitor active volcanoes above ground.
Volcanic eruptions, like earthquakes, are notoriously difficult to predict. Volcanoes are able to stay dormant for decades, even centuries, before suddenly exploding and wreaking havoc around them. The 2010 eruption of Iceland’sglacier-bound Eyjafjallajokull volcano after nearly 200 years of peaceful slumber filled the skies with ash, grounding flights into and out of northern Europe.