From University of Queensland (AU) via SciTechDaily : “What Lies Beneath-Volcanic Secrets Revealed – “We’ve Been Misled and Geologically Deceived”


From University of Queensland (AU)



September 14, 2021

Basaltic lava flow. Credit: The University of Queensland (AU)

Lava samples have revealed a new truth about the geological make-up of the Earth’s crust and could have implications for volcanic eruption early warning systems, a University of Queensland-led study has found.

UQ volcanologist Dr. Teresa Ubide said it was previously understood that cooled lava from so-called ‘hot spot’ volcanoes was ‘pristine’ magma from the melting mantle, tens of kilometers under the Earth’s surface.

“This isn’t quite the case – we’ve been misled, geologically deceived,” Dr. Ubide said.

“For decades, we have considered hot spot volcanoes to be messengers from the earth’s mantle, offering us a glimpse into what’s happening deep under our feet.

“But these volcanoes are extremely complex inside and filter a very different melt to the surface than what we’ve been expecting. This is due to the volcano’s intricate plumbing system that forces many minerals in the magma to crystallize.”

Dr. Ubide said the minerals are being recycled by the rising magma, changing their overall chemistry to ‘appear’ pristine, which is an important new piece of the jigsaw to better understand how ocean island volcanoes work.

“We have discovered that hot spot volcanoes filter their melts to become highly eruptible at the base of the Earth’s crust, situated several kilometers below the volcano,” she said.

“The close monitoring of volcanoes can indicate when magma reaches the base of the crust, where this filtering process reaches the ‘tipping point’ that leads to eruption.

“Our results support the notion that detection of magma at the crust-mantle boundary could indicate an upcoming eruption.

“This new information takes us one step closer to improving the monitoring of volcanic unrest, which aims to protect lives, infrastructure, and crops.”

Hot spot volcanoes make up some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, such as the Canary Islands in the Atlantic and Hawaii in the Pacific.

The international team of researchers analyzed new rock samples from the island of El Hierro, in Spain’s Canary Islands, just south-west of Morocco. This data was combined with hundreds of published geochemical data from El Hierro, including the underwater eruption in 2011 and 2012. The team then tested the findings on data from ocean island hot spot volcanoes around the world, including Hawaii.

Dr. Ubide said hot spot volcanoes are also found in Australia.

“South-east Queenslanders would be very familiar with the Glass House Mountains or the large Tweed shield volcano, which includes Wollumbin (Mount Warning) in New South Wales,” she said.

“Hot spot volcanoes can pop up ‘anywhere’, as opposed to most other volcanoes that occur due to tectonic plates crashing into each other, like the Ring of Fire volcanoes in Japan or New Zealand, or tectonic plates moving away from each other, creating for example the Atlantic Ocean.

“South-east Queensland hot spot volcanoes were active millions of years ago. They produced enormous volumes of magma and make excellent laboratories to explore the roots of volcanism.

“There are even dormant volcanoes in South Australia, that could erupt with little warning, that would benefit from better geological markers for early detection.”

Science paper:

See the full article here .


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The University of Queensland (AU) is a public research university located primarily in Brisbane, the capital city of the Australian state of Queensland. Founded in 1909 by the Queensland parliament, UQ is one of the six sandstone universities, an informal designation of the oldest university in each state. The University of Queensland was ranked second nationally by the Australian Research Council in the latest research assessment and equal second in Australia based on the average of four major global university league tables. The University of Queensland is a founding member of edX, Australia’s leading Group of Eight and the international research-intensive Association of Pacific Rim Universities.

The main St Lucia campus occupies much of the riverside inner suburb of St Lucia, southwest of the Brisbane central business district. Other University of Queensland campuses and facilities are located throughout Queensland, the largest of which are the Gatton campus and the Mayne Medical School. University of Queensland’s overseas establishments include University of Queensland North America office in Washington D.C., and the University of Queensland-Ochsner Clinical School in Louisiana, United States.

The university offers associate, bachelor, master, doctoral, and higher doctorate degrees through a college, a graduate school, and six faculties. University of Queensland incorporates over one hundred research institutes and centres offering research programs, such as the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Boeing Research and Technology Australia Centre, the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, and the University of Queensland Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation. Recent notable research of the university include pioneering the invention of the HPV vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, developing a COVID-19 vaccine that was in human trials, and the development of high-performance superconducting MRI magnets for portable scanning of human limbs.

The University of Queensland counts two Nobel laureates (Peter C. Doherty and John Harsanyi), over a hundred Olympians winning numerous gold medals, and 117 Rhodes Scholars among its alumni and former staff. University of Queensland’s alumni also include The University of California-San Francisco (US) Chancellor Sam Hawgood, the first female Governor-General of Australia Dame Quentin Bryce, former President of King’s College London (UK) Ed Byrne, member of United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Council for Science and Technology Max Lu, Oscar and Emmy awards winner Geoffrey Rush, triple Grammy Award winner Tim Munro, the former CEO and Chairman of Dow Chemical, and current Director of DowDuPont Andrew N. Liveris.


The University of Queensland has a strong research focus in science, medicine and technology. The university’s research advancement includes pioneering the development of the cervical cancer vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, by University of Queensland Professor Ian Frazer. In 2009, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation reported that University of Queensland had taken the lead in numerous areas of cancer research.

In the Commonwealth Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia 2012 National Report, University of Queensland’s research is rated above world standard in more broad fields than at any other Australian university (in 22 broad fields), and more University of Queensland researchers are working in research fields that ERA has assessed as above world standard than at any other Australian university. University of Queensland research in biomedical and clinical health sciences, technology, engineering, biological sciences, chemical sciences, environmental sciences, and physical sciences was ranked above world standard (rating 5).

In 2015, University of Queensland is ranked by Nature Index as the research institution with the highest volume of research output in both interdisciplinary journals Nature and Science within the southern hemisphere, with approximately twofold more output than the global average.

In 2020 Clarivate named 34 UQ professors to its list of Highly Cited Researchers.

Aside from disciplinary-focused teaching and research within the academic faculties, the university maintains a number of interdisciplinary research institutes and centres at the national, state and university levels. For example, the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the University of Queensland Seismology Station, Heron Island Research Station and the Institute of Modern Languages.

With the support from the Queensland Government, the Australian Government and major donor The Atlantic Philanthropies, The University of Queensland dedicates basic, translational and applied research via the following research-focused institutes:

Institute for Molecular Bioscience – within the Queensland Bioscience Precinct which houses scientists from the CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU) and the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery

Translational Research Institute, which houses The University of Queensland’s Diamantina Institute, School of Medicine and the Mater Medical Research Institute
Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
Institute for Social Science Research
Sustainable Mineral Institute
Global Change Institute
Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
Queensland Brain Institute
Centre for Advanced Imaging
Boeing Research and Technology Australia Centre
UQ Dow Centre

The University of Queensland plays a key role in Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners, Queensland’s first academic health science system. This partnership currently comprises Children’s Health Queensland, Mater Health Services, Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Metro South Health, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, The Queensland University of Technology (AU), The University of Queensland and the Translational Research Institute.

International partnerships

The University of Queensland has a number of agreements in place with many of her international peers, including: Princeton University (US), The University of Pennsylvania (US), The University of California (US), Washington University in St. Louis (US), The University of Toronto (CA), McGill University (CA), The University of British Columbia (CA), Imperial College London (UK), University College London (UK), The University of Edinburgh (SCT), Balsillie School of International Affairs (CA), Sciences Po (FR), Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München](DE), Technical University of Munich [Technische Universität München] (DE), The University of Zürich [Universität Zürich ](CH), The University of Auckland (NZ), The National University of Singapore [universiti kebangsaan singapura] (SG), Nanyang Technological University [Universiti Teknologi Nanyang](SG),Peking University [北京大学](CN), The University of Hong Kong [香港大學] (HKU) (HK), The University of Tokyo[(東京大] (JP), The National Taiwan University [國立臺灣大學](TW), and The Seoul National University [서울대학교](KR).