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A Volcanic Eruption Gives Researchers Access to theMantle



By: Jayden Yao


In 2021, when the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland started spewing lava after 781 years

of dormancy, researchers and scientists wanted to take a look at what was going on

underneath the surface.


On the first day of the eruption, a helicopter flew to the site to gather samples of lava.

These samples were distributed to labs for testing which revealed unexpected results.

It turned out that the lava was full of crystals.


A paper published in June, in the journal Nature Communications, revealed that the lava

contained a wide range of materials from different parts of the Mantle, the bulk of the

earth’s interior. This variation in materials was unexpected and gave a new perspective

to researchers and scientists on what contributes to volcanic eruptions.


“We have a really detailed record of the different types of composition that we can find

in the mantle now, and it must be very heterogeneous, very variable,” said Frances

Deegan.


The Fagradalsfjall volcano’s lava was primitive, which means that it came from a

reservoir of magma under the crust. Researchers all rushed to gather additional

samples from the volcano.


Ed Marshall, a geochemist at the University of Iceland, said while collecting samples,

“We were working all hours — you’re asleep and the volcano’s still erupting and you’re

like, ‘I got to get back out there. But it’s hard to describe how rare this kind of thing is.”

Fagradalsfjall is between the Eurasian tectonic plate and the North American tectonic

plate. These two tectonic plates often rub against each other.


Compared to other volcanoes, the Fagradalsfjall eruptions were tame and were easier

to access.


Dr. Flovenz, who started studying Icelandic volcanoes in 1973 said, “These are very

exciting times. I had never had the hope that I would live to see this unrest and

eruptions on this peninsula. This has been extremely interesting for the geosciences

community.”

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