A Volcanic Eruption in Iceland Brings Us Closer to Earth’s Core
By: Alex Yang
A volcano in Iceland, called Fagradalsfjall volcano, has erupted for the first time in centuries. As the volcano erupted over six months, millions of tourists arrived to take pictures of the spectacular event. However, while many tourists came closer to take pictures of the spirals of flame, a helicopter with scientists took a scoop of the lava for testing and returned with unexpected results.
After the samples left the lab, the scientists discovered something surprising: the lava contained many crystals. In a paper published in June in the journal Nature Communications, researchers studied the composition of materials inside the lava crystal samples. They found they consisted of many materials found in the mantle (a metal layer between the Earth’s crust and core).
These discoveries will go a long way to further research into the causes of volcanic eruptions. The lava that came in front of the Fagradalsfjall eruptions was very primitive. Therefore, it came from a reservoir closer to the Earth’s core instead of a shallow lava reservoir close to the surface. After this discovery, scientists raced to take more samples of the lava spewing from the eruption. “We were working all hours — you are asleep, and the volcano is still erupting, and you are like, ‘I got to get back out there,’” said Dr. Marshall.
This discovery is one of the first examples where the lava from an explosion is coming straight from the mantle source. With further research, the inconsistency in materials proved that the lava came from different parts of the mantle. The low oxygen levels in the lava also contribute to a long-standing debate about the low oxygen levels inside the volcanic rock.
These discoveries could help us further research why volcanos erupt and the location of the lava that spews out of the volcano during an eruption.
“These are fascinating times,” said Dr. Flovenz, a scientist who started to study Icelandic volcanoes in 1973. “I had never hoped I would live to see this unrest and eruptions on this peninsula.” Scientists will study these remarkable discoveries for years to come and potentially bring in loads of new information.