From Science Times : “Supervolcanoes May Not Always Show Signs of Next Eruption; Indonesia’s Mount Toba Building Up Magma Silently”

Science Times

From Science Times

Nov 06, 2021
Ron Jefferson

Sumatra’s Mount Toba volcano is one of the biggest geological threats in Indonesia. In a new study, the natural solemnity of the towering volcano could be replaced with a devastating eruption anytime soon, and the worst part is that it could occur without any warning. The research detailed that not all supervolcanoes could give signs of their upcoming eruptions, leading to the failure of prediction and unwanted chaos.

Supervolcano Magma Accumulation Silent But Deadly
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Indonesia – Lake Toba. 3 April 2016.

Sumatra’s Mount Toba volcano is one of the biggest geological threats in Indonesia. In a new study, the natural solemnity of the towering volcano could be replaced with a devastating eruption anytime soon, and the worst part is that it could occur without any warning. The research detailed that not all supervolcanoes could give signs of their upcoming eruptions, leading to the failure of prediction and unwanted chaos.

The study presented the data from previous eruptions conducted by the Toba volcano. Based on the geological information extracted from Toba’s massive spews 840,000 and 75,000 years ago, no magma influx had manifested in the volcano’s reservoir. The signs did not appear due to the silent movement and accumulations of materials.

Moreover, the study found out that the Toba volcano’s second eruption had a gradual build-up of magma. The time it took for the volcano to accumulate its chaotic load was 600,000 years, surprisingly half of the supposed 1.4 million years. The slow compilation of the volcanic materials was due to the relatively quiet and moderate escalation of temperatures at the continental crust that covered the magma reservoir.

School of Earth and Space Sciences at The Peking University [北京大学](CN), Institute of Earth Sciences at The Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics(TW), and The Institute of Geology and Geophysics at The Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院] (CN) expert Ping Ping Liu said in a University of Geneva [Université de Genève](CH) press release that the eruptions recorded from Indonesia’s Toba volcano are dangerous. The expert explained that the gradual heating of the crust allows the magma to have slower cooling of temperature. In addition, the magma from this kind of system will be accumulated faster than the build-up in a standard reservoir.

Toba Volcano Still Active; Magma Build-Up Ongoing and May Erupt Without Warnings

The examinations from the Toba volcano were made possible through the chemical compositions of the minerals called zircons, which were spewed out during the eruption. Science Alert reported that zircons contain uranium which eventually decays to lead after some time. The transition was analyzed through mass spectrometry and revealed details in between the zircons’ chemical transitions, allowing experts to specify what happened during the supervolcanic eruptions of Toba.

The readings from the volcanic minerals also provided the timelines of the eruptions and the sequence of the magma build-ups on the reservoir. Moreover, the zircons served as a key to measuring the volume of magma accumulated right in the heart of the Toba volcano.

Toba’s previous eruptions formed a wide caldera that measures about 320 square kilometers. The caldera still stands as a lake [above] in the present day, with an island sitting at its center. The island exists due to the push of the magma reservoir accumulating under the depths of the lake and into the crust. According to Liu, the volcano is active and the magma is gradually collecting magma up to this date. The build-up is evident through Toba lake’s island as its height increases over time. The study titled “Growth and thermal maturation of the Toba magma reservoir” was published in PNAS.


Supervolcanoes 101 | National Geographic

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