Research that throws light on the inner "waterway" of volcanic can help scientists better understand volcanic eruptions and unrest.
A study led by the University of Kueensland analyzed crystals in the famous Italian mountain Etna to find out how quickly the magma moves to the surface.
Dr Teresa Ubide, from the UK School of Earth and Environmental Science, says the research will provide a better understanding of volcanic systems and improve volcanic tracking frameworks.
"Looking at the so-called magma plumbing systems – I think these are" inner figures "of the volcano – we can better interpret the signs of the movement of magma under our feet," Dr Ubide said.
"New information about magma transport prior to past volcanic eruptions can provide a context to better respond to future tracking signals, such as seismic earthquake measurements."
Dr. Ubide and her team analyzed variations in the chemical composition of volcanic crystals, formed in a chemical sample called "sectoral zoning".
"For decades, volcanologists and mineralogists have observed the zonation sector in crystals, noting that this could develop when crystals are formed quickly," she says.
"But since the exact origin and implications of sectoral zone crystals in the magma are poorly known, they are usually ignored in the study of pre-eruptive processes within the volcano.
"We have now discovered that they not only record detailed magmatic histories and triggers of eruption, but can also provide information on the speed of magma transporting to the surface."
The research, which builds on the previous work on the analysis of volcanic crystals, was used by ultra-ultraviolet laser – similar to the technology used for eye surgery – at the UK's radiogenic isotope facility.
"We used a" cold "laser beam to remove a thin layer from the crystal surface," Dr Ubide said.
"Then, this small amount of material is placed in a mass spectrometer, an instrument that measures the composition of the" trace "elements, readable elements that can weigh less than 0.1% of the original object.
"We found that changes in trace elements in these crystals are extremely sensitive to processes that take place in volcanoes, such as storage and cooling of magma, mixing magma, transporting magma and raising the magma to the surface.
"It's an incredible clip of what's happening in volcanoes, providing a glimpse into their internal water supply system and helping us better understand this incredible natural wonder."
Research, published in collaboration with the Italian Volcanological Institute INGV-Rome and Sapienza Universiti Rome, can be found in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (DOI: 10.1016 / j.gca.2019.02.021).
Media: Dr Teresa Ubide, firstname.lastname@example.org, +61 403 334 152, +61 7 3365 2677; Dominic Jarvis, email@example.com, +61 413 334 924.