New Study Offers A Better Understanding Of Pumice Cone Volcanoes

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While exploring a remote mountainside site in East Africa, scientists stumbled upon some fascinating rocks. These stones could offer researchers insight into a particular type of volcano that presents a behavior far more dangerous than thought before. The new study shed more light on pumice cone volcanoes.

The newly-found rocks serve as proof of the eruption of Aluto, a dormant stratovolcano located in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley. Older studies showed that Aluto last erupted more than 2,000 years ago, in 50 B.C., in a relatively minor burst that only posed a threat to humans that were near the volcano. Details of the ancient eruption, known as a pumice cone eruption, are still unclear.

Scientists decided to gain a deeper understanding of the eruption by forming a more accurate characterization of it. To do so, researchers used special analysis techniques to study an array of rock samples.

New Study Offers A Better Understanding Of Pumice Cone Volcanoes

The discovered rocks proved to be unique, having a foam-like interior covered by a thin layer of volcanic glass. This unique structure suggests the volcanic fragments were still hot and sticky at the time the ancient eruption deposited them.

Pumice cone volcanoes are relatively rare on a global scale. However, they can commonly be found in East Africa, Iceland, and New Zealand.
Since the rocks were discovered at a considerable distance from Aluto’s cone, scientists determined that the eruption was clearly more powerful than they previously believed.

The journal Nature Communications published the new study this month. The authors of the paper believe that the avalanche that transported the rocks away from the caldera was very powerful and fast. Geologists could make use of the discoveries to create a more accurate estimation of the risks involved in pumice volcano eruptions.


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