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Volcanic Eruptions Might Be Rarer As Magma Sits In Cold Storage

Update Date: Feb 17, 2014 09:05 AM EST

Whenever a volcano erupts, prior to it the molten rock called magma moves around underneath the surface. According to a recent research, the liquid magma has been found to be very rare limiting the chances of frequent eruptions. 

The finding is also being considered as an important key in predicting the possibilities of the volcano eruptions. 

Researchers at University of Califonia, Davis, and Oregon State University studied Mount Hood and came to conclusions that the magma is naturally too cold to move around quite often. 

"We can tell it was below about 750 degrees Celsius, so it's still pretty hot. You wouldn't touch it," said Adam Kent, co-author of the study, according to JPR

Geologists studied the crystals in lavas at Oregon's Mount Hood which were formed from two different eruptions occurred 220 years and 1,500 years ago. The crystal were formed inside the volcano's magma chamber and offer an explanation of the temperature history. 

"This tells us that the standard state of magma for this system is that it can't be erupted," said Kari Cooper, a geochemist at the University of California, Davis, according to Live Science. "That means that having a magma that can erupt is a special condition. Our expectation is that there's a lot of volcanoes that behave this way."

"If you can see a body of magma that has a high amount of liquid, perhaps this magma is getting ready to erupt or at least has some potential to erupt," added Kent. "It wouldn't be a slam-dunk guarantee."

Researchers believed that the magma stored under Mount Hood quickly shifted from cold to hot as the newer and warmed molten rock arrived from lower levels. 

"We can see chemical traces of new magma reacting [with the old], and the time to eruption was only days to weeks, maybe months," Cooper said.

The findings were published in the journal Nature

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