Nanocrystals can trigger explosive volcanic eruptions

Sept. 24 (UPI) — The presence of tiny crystals in magma can cause volcanoes to violently explode, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science Advances.

“Exactly what causes the sudden and violent eruption of apparently peaceful volcanoes has always been a mystery in geology research,” lead researcher Danilo Di Genova said in a news release.

“Nanogeoscience research has now allowed us to find an explanation. Tiny crystal grains containing mostly iron, silicon, and aluminium are the first link in a chain of cause and effect that can end in catastrophe for people living in the vicinity of a volcano,” said Di Genova, a geophysicist at the University of Bayreuth in Germany.

Using a combination of spectroscopic and electron microscopic imaging techniques, researchers were able to identify nano-sized crystals called nanolites in the ashes of active volcanoes.

In the lab, scientists successfully demonstrated how these tiny crystals,

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