An unprecedented magma chamber has been discovered growing under a volcano in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea.
Volcanologists have discovered a large, ever-growing magma chamber under an underground volcano in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Greek tourist island of Santorini.
A new study has found that the underwater volcano Columbo, whose deadly eruption wiped out the picturesque Greek island of Santorini almost 400 years ago, contains a growing magma chamber that could spark another massive eruption in the next 150 years.
Unexpected magma chamber growing under the Mediterranean Sea #volcanohttps://t.co/2DqjtIEKxn https://t.co/I1s3fzWzPD
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Colombo Volcano is located about 7 kilometers (4 miles) from Santorini, 500 meters (1640 feet) below sea level.
Colombo is one of the most active marine volcanoes in the world, and according to historical records, its last eruption in 1650 AD claimed the lives of at least 70 people.
A study published on October 22, 2022 in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems showed that a previously undiscovered magma chamber growing under the Colombo volcano could trigger a new eruption, endangering residents and tourists of Santorini.
High resolution images and rock data show that the magma chamber is about 0.6 km wide and 2 km deep, with 42% molten mass.
According to the study, magma deposits are located at a depth of 2 to 4 kilometers below sea level and pose a great danger because they can cause a volcanic eruption, which can lead to a tsunami.
Submarine volcanoes are monitored in exactly the same way as their land-based counterparts, but because seismometers are difficult to install underwater, scientists have less data on undersea volcanoes.
In an effort to get around this problem, the scientists decided to test a different technique for studying Colombo’s internal mechanics.
In particular, they used a technique called full-wave inversion, which uses artificially generated seismic waves to create a high-resolution picture of how hard or soft the rocks underground are.
Seismic waves propagate through the earth at different speeds depending on the hardness of the rocks they pass through. For example, a type of seismic wave called a P-wave propagates more slowly if the rock is fluid-like, such as magma, than it is through solid rock.
By collecting data on the speed of seismic waves passing through the Earth, scientists can learn where magma formed.
The seismic data showed a significant decrease in velocity under the volcano, indicating the presence of a magma chamber and not just solid rock.
Other calculations show that the magma chamber has grown at a rate of 4 million cubic meters per year since its eruption in 1650.
The team also found that the chamber now contains about 1.4 cubic kilometers of magma.
According to study lead author Kajetan Khrapkevich, a geophysicist at Imperial College London, the volume of magma could reach nearly 2 cubic kilometers over the next 150 years. This is the approximate amount of magma erupted about 400 years ago.
Source: Living Science