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Crystals reveal inner workings of volcanoes

• http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk, by Tamera Jones
 

The findings bring them a step closer to predicting when an explosive volcano like Mount St Helens might next erupt.

The UK-led team of researchers analysed tiny crystals in rocks erupted from the volcano. These crystals contain a record of events inside the magma chamber such as injections of hot magma or gas.

They found that injections of magma or gas into the chamber from deep within the Earth coincide with events at the surface, like swarms of earthquakes, ground distortions, or releases of gas at the surface. All are often a signal that the volcano is about to erupt.
 
'Now we have a powerful tool that will let us work out how events at the surface reflect what's going on inside the magma chamber,' says Dr Kate Saunders from the University of Bristol, lead author of the study, published in Science.

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