Clues to where magma was stored prior to and during the 2021 eruption at La Palma


CNDS Fellows Valentin Troll and Frances Deegan worked with colleagues from Cornell University (USA), and Las Palmas and Barcelona (Spain) amongst other institutions to unearth precise, microscopic clues to where magma was stored prior to and during the 2021 eruption at La Palma. The results offer scientists and government decision makers a way to better assess the risk of volcanic eruptions.

In recent years, scientists have used satellite imagery, earthquake data, and GPS to search for ground deformation near active volcanoes, but those techniques are indirect and inaccurate in locating the depth of magma storage. By finding direct microscopic, carbon dioxide-rich fluids encased in cooled volcanic crystals, scientists can determine accurately, within one hundred meters, where magma was stored prior to an eruption. These fluids can now be measured swiftly using a calibrated Raman spectroscopy instrument to determine how far below the surface magma was stored.

In the case of the recent and devastating 2021 eruption of La Palma, fluid inclusions in olivine crystals revealed a deep magma storage reservoir at 15 to 27 km. The high-precision fluid inclusion densities in olivine document pressures constrained to a seismically active deep magma storage zone, indicating a unified location for olivine-bearing magma staging.

The authors are: Kyle Dayton and Esteban Gazel (Cornell University, USA); Penny Wieser (University of California, Berkeley, USA); Valentin R. Troll and Frances M. Deegan (Uppsala University, Sweden); Juan Carlos Carracedo and Francisco J. Perez-Torrado (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain); Hector La Madrid (University of Missouri, USA); Diana C. Roman (Carnegie Institution, Washington, USA); Jamison Ward (University of Minnesota, USA); Meritxell Aulinas and Guillem Gisbert (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain); and Harri Geiger (University of Freiburg, Germany).

Articla available at Science Webpage.

Last modified: 2023-02-01