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Why scientists believe volcanoes have ‘memory’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

An intensive 70-year photogrammetic study has revealed volcanoes have a kind of life and death memory, new research has found.

An intensive 70-year photogrammetic study has revealed volcanoes have a kind of life and death memory, new research has found.

The seven-decades long study of Bezymianny, an active volcano in Kamchatka, eastern Russia, has given scientists remarkable insights into how volcanoes are born and die.

Researchers from the German Research Center for Geosciences GFZ discovered that collapsed volcanoes will, over time, rebuild in a very similar pattern.

Astronauts on the International Space Station took this image of an eruption plume emanating from Klyuchevskoy, one of the many active volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Bezymianny can be seen to the south.

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The rebuild includes the fusing of often multiple vents into a single chamber.

Researchers have been monitoring Bezymianny since it dramatically erupted in 1956 despite at the time being considered extinct.

The eruption, similar to the explosion of US volcano Mount St Helens in 1980, produced a large horseshoe-shaped crater.

Bezymianny's crater was caused by collapse of the summit and a lateral blast.

Older photographs taken from Soviet helicopters in combination with recent satellite drone data have now been analysed by the research team, which includes a number of Russian scientists.

The study, titled The rebirth and evolution of Bezymianny volcano, Kamchatka after the 1956 sector collapse, has been published in Nature.

Scientists discovered that the initial re-growth of Bezymianny began at different vents about 400 metres apart.

But two decades later, after increased activity, the two vents slowly moved together.

Images from the study reveal the growth over decades after Bezymianny collapsed in 1956.

About 50 years later, the activity began to concentrate on a single vent, which allowed the growth of a new and steep cone.

Researchers found the regrowth was occurring at a rate of approximately 26,400 cubic metres per day — the equivalent of 1000 large dump trucks.

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Documenting Bezymianny's rebuilding so closely has allowed the researchers to model when it will achieve a critical height and collapse again.

A woman takes a photo as an ash plume rises from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on May 15, 2018.A Filipino villager looks on as Mayon Volcano erupts anew in Legaspi city, Albay province, Philippines in January 2018.

The modelling can also help volcanologists predict future eruptions more accurately.

Researchers can track the stresses on rock and the path vents will travel.

"Our results show that the decay and re-growth of a volcano has a major impact on the pathways of the magma in the depth," Thomas Walter, the study's co-author and volcanologist, said.

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"Thus, disintegrated and newly grown volcanoes show a kind of memory of their altered field of stress."

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/volcanoes-have-memory-scientists-who-researched-bezymianny-claim/8da29e55-043f-4ba6-aea8-771af0ae936b

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