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Dormant Volcano Finally Erupts

By: Brayden Yin

Iceland is a land that is set between two tectonic plates, and in 2021, the Fagradalsfjall volcano erupted there. Scientists found that the lava issuing from the volcano was “primitive,” which means that it came from a deep reservoir of magma.

The volcano had been dormant—it had not erupted—for more than 781 years. Tourists came and went, taking pictures of the volcano, and of the orange glow emanating from its store of molten-hot lava. However, taking photos from outside doesn’t satisfy scientists. They wanted to know what was going on deep inside Fagradalsfjall. Researchers sought information that comes from miles underground, where the dynamics of the molten rock works in ways that even scientists can’t explain and describe.

On the first day of the eruption, a helicopter flew out to the Fagradalsfjall volcano and collected a sample of the lava that spewed out in the initial eruption. Researchers sent this sample to a lab, and the lab sent back some unexpected results. The lava sample contained a high number of crystals. While most volcanoes have magma that originates from little pockets in the earth’s oceanic crust, which is the crust at the bottom of the ocean, Fagradalsfjall’s vent goes straight to the mantle, a plastic layer between Earth’s core and its crust.

According to the journal Nature Communications, Researchers found that the lava crystals’ composition is very variable. There are many different elements involved. Magma from the mantle is very heterogenous, or variable. The Fagradalsfjall volcano sits between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, which is a boundary where the plates are constantly rubbing against each other and pulling apart.

Scientists are constantly studying the volcano, even six months after its initial eruption. They will continue to study it.


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