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Fire and ice… Mapping future glaciovolcanism

Thu, 3 Dec 2020, 13:49
13:49 PM | BY: ELEANOR
Global distributions of database elements (A) Volcanoes from the SGVD (B) Glaciers from the RGI 6 database, and (C) Glacierized volcanoes mapped combining A and B. Orange, purple, and green stars show volcanoes with ice within 1 km, 2.5 km (but not within 1 km), and 5 km (but not within 2.5 km) respectively. (Image: Edwards et al., 2020)
Global distributions of database elements (A) Volcanoes from the SGVD (B) Glaciers from the RGI 6 database, and (C) Glacierized volcanoes mapped combining A and B. Orange, purple, and green stars show volcanoes with ice within 1 km, 2.5 km (but not within 1 km), and 5 km (but not within 2.5 km) respectively. (Image: Edwards et al., 2020)
Eyjafjallajökull eruption April 2010 - extensive volcanic ash clouds caused by magma-ice interactions creating widespread hazard (Image: USGS)
Eyjafjallajökull eruption April 2010 - extensive volcanic ash clouds caused by magma-ice interactions creating widespread hazard (Image: USGS)
Glacierized volcanoes, hosting one or more glaciers, can be found at all latitudes and pose unique risks to human populations, particularly the 160 million people that live within 100km of a glacierized volcano.

When volcanism occurs in glaciated settings, a range of destructive hazards may transpire including volcanic mudflows (lahars), volcanic ash clouds and glacial outburst floods commonly referred to as jökulhlaups. Therefore, it is prevalent to research and distinguish the locations of these glacierized volcanoes to minimise future risk.

A new database has been created by Edwards, Kochtitzky and Battersby, published in Global and Planetary Change. This was achieved by combining glaciology and volcanology databases, specifically the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Database (SGVD) to identify Holocene volcano locations and the Randolph Glacier Inventory 6.0 (RGI) to analyse glacial boundaries. GIS was then used to visually output these datasets. To reduce errors caused by map projection distortion, all analyses were done with the PostGIS geography data type to do calculations on the spheroid. For detailed methodology, see article link below.

Compiling this merged database allowed Edwards et al. to identify volcanoes where populations, glacier volumes and number of documented eruptions intersect and by applying a simple ranking system, the 10 most dangerous glacierized volcanoes on Earth could be identified. Results indicated a total of 837 glaciers (exc. Antarctic Ice Sheet) are most vulnerable to a volcanic event as they exist within 1km of a vent identified by the SGVD.

The dramatic interactions between volcanoes and glaciers have been exemplified consistently in geologic records, and no better example in recent times is that of the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull where extensive ash clouds caused by magma-ice interaction led to the shutdown of European airspace for 7 days and left millions of passengers stranded across all continents. Additionally, in 1985, the catastrophic impact of glaciovolcanic generated lahars was demonstrated by The Armero tragedy, Columbia, causing over 23,000 fatalities. Case studies such as this highlight the significance of comprehensive glaciovolcanic databases.

Innovative research such as Edwards, Kochtitzky and Battersby (2020) can help scientists and decision-makers safeguard the communities that inhabit regions of fire and ice. It may also serve as a tool to help populations living in such regions better understand the often overlooked danger that lies below the picturesque glacial landscapes.
Previous news
Thu, 19 Nov 2020, 11:27
The Kerguelen Plateau in the Indian Ocean is the world's longest continuously erupting supervolcano dating back into the Cretaceous (Image: National Geophysical Data Center).
Research led by geologists from Curtin University discover that a volcanic province in the Indian Ocean was the world's most continuously active large igneous province (LIP), erupting for 30 million years and was fuelled by a constantly moving 'conveyor belt' of magma. ... read all
Wed, 4 Nov 2020, 21:48
Aerial Observations of Manam, Papua New Guinea (Image: Lui et al. 2020)
Improved early warning systems are crucial for minimising loss of life and effectively planning for volcanic emergencies. Typically, volcanologists use seismic monitoring as their main indicator of imminent volcanic activity. As technology advances, alternative early warning system methods are being explored by volcanologists. ... read all
Fri, 23 Oct 2020, 10:26
Island of La Palma in the Canaries, Volcán Taburiente in background – study site for research by Thiele et al. (2020) (Image: Global Volcanism Program)
One of the worst things that can happen to a volcano and anyone nearby is when larger parts of the volcano collapse, creating catastrophic landslides or debris avalanches, usually along with powerful explosive eruptions. The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was such a case. Fortunately, such events are very rare, but their hazard is much greater than most other types of volcanic eruptions. ... read all
Mon, 5 Oct 2020, 09:05
Volcanic ash settling on south Pacific Ocean following eruption (Image: USGS)
A recent study published in Anthropocene by the University of Southampton reveals the significant role volcanic ash may have in atmospheric carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas removal, finding it to be a cheaper, simpler and less invasive method than previously proposed alternatives. With anthropogenic induced climate change one of the modern world’s greatest challenges, it has now been internationally recognised, through policies such as the 2015 Paris Agreement, that methods of active greenhouse gas removal (GGR) are fundamental to win the fight against climate change. GGR techniques aim to reduce the greenhouse effect, thus slowing climate change and providing a longer time frame for society to adapt and mitigate. ... read all

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