LEEDS, England, Sept. 27 (UPI) — A study of recent volcanic activity in Africa has revealed a method to pinpoint where volcanic eruptions are likely to occur, British researchers say.
Scientists from the universities of Leeds along with U.S. and African researchers studied volcanic activity in the remote Afar desert of Northern Ethiopia from 2005 to 2009, a release said.
Looking at a sequence of magmatic events, where molten rock flowed into a crack between the African and Arabian tectonic plates, they found the location of each event in the sequence was not random.
Instead they were linked, because each event changed the amount of tension in the earth’s crust, the researchers said.
By monitoring levels of tension in the ground near where each event occurred they found subsequent eruptions were more likely in places where the tension increased.
One researcher compared the linkage to that observed for earthquakes.
“It’s been known for some time that a large earthquake has a role to play in triggering subsequent earthquakes, but until now, our knowledge of volcanic events has been based on isolated cases,” Ian Hamling at the University of Leeds said.
“We have demonstrated that volcanic eruptions can influence each other.
“Knowing the state of stress in this way won’t tell you when an eruption will happen, but it will give a better idea of where it is most likely to occur,” Hamling said.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.