If the world ends, will it be water (again) or fire? When volcanoes erupt, the devastation is short-lived, but violent. Magma creeps up through a crack in the Earth's crust and mixes with water, setting off a series of explosions--as many as a few each hour for several weeks. When the action stops, a crater-topped, rock-filled fracture called a diatreme is left behind.
If volcanologists could understand how to predict these volcanoes, they could not only save lives, they could find DIAMONDS.
Diatremes are sometimes formed by a type of molten rock which has the deepest origins of all magmas on Earth. When this magma cools, it leaves behind rocks dense in crystals, sometimes holding diamonds.
In the Huffington Post and on LiveScience.com, Megan Gannon quotes geologist Greg Valentine as saying, "Previously it was thought that those explosions started at very shallow levels and got progressively deeper, but that model didn't match with what geologists were finding at volcanic sites.
"These volcanoes can send ash deposits into populated areas. They could easily produce the same effects that the one in Iceland did when it disrupted air travel, so what we're trying to do is understand the way they behave."
Meanwhile, a Japanese researcher says it's theoretically possible that the we could have an earthquake with a magnitude of 10 (the highest that can be recorded). No magnitude 10 earthquake has ever been observed--the most powerful quake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 in Chile in 1960.
A magnitude 10 quake would likely cause ground motions for up to an hour, with tsunamis continuing for several days while the shaking was still going on.
The Japan Times quotes Toru Matsuzawa as saying, "The estimate does not mean that a magnitude 10 quake will inevitably happen. If it happens, it would take place around once every 10,000 years."
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