Months of warning signs from Mauna Loa volcano, such as earthquakes and ash plumes on Hawaii’s Big Island, prompted the U.S. Geological Survey to recently start releasing weekly updates on activity at the world’s largest active volcano.
A new study published Sept. 7th in Nature Geoscience, is the first to simulate the individual crystals’ movement in the magma chamber to better understand the motion of magma and the buildup of pressure.
“Whenever there is unrest – like earthquakes, ash plumes or surface deformation, it is really difficult to know what processes are taking place inside the volcano.” said co-author Jillian Schleicher, a University of Washington doctoral student in Earth and space sciences.
A new tool provided by computer simulation is novel because it lets researchers explore the mechanics of an active volcano. “It creates an interpretive framework for what controls the movement, and what might produce the signals we see on the outside.” said first author George Bergantz, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences.