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Volcanic eruptions

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Nature and flora

1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens

On May 18, 1980, a major volcanic eruption occurred at Mount St. Helens, a volcano located in Skamania County, in the State of Washington. The eruption was the most significant volcanic eruption to occur in the contiguous 48 U.S. states since the much smaller 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California. It has often been declared as the most disastrous volcanic eruption in U.S. history. The eruption was preceded by a two-month series of earthquakes and steam-venting episodes, caused by an injection of magma at shallow depth below the volcano that created a large bulge and a fracture system on the mountain's north slope.

Nature and flora, Geography

Minoan eruption

The Minoan eruption of Thera, also referred to as the Thera eruption, Santorini eruption, or Late Bronze Age eruption, was a major catastrophic volcanic eruption with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6 or 7 and a dense-rock equivalent (DRE) of 60 km3 (14 cu mi), Dated to the mid-second millennium BCE, the eruption was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. It devastated the island of Thera, including the Minoan settlement at Akrotiri and communities and agricultural areas on nearby islands and the coast of Crete with a related earthquake and tsunami.

Nature and flora

Limnic eruption

A limnic eruption, also termed a lake overturn, is a rare type of natural disaster in which dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) suddenly erupts from deep lake waters, forming a gas cloud capable of suffocating wildlife, livestock, and humans. A limnic eruption may also cause tsunamis as the rising CO2 displaces water. Scientists believe earthquakes, volcanic activity, and other explosive events can serve as triggers for limnic eruptions. Lakes in which such activity occurs are referred to as limnically active lakes or exploding lakes. Some features of limnically active lakes include:CO2-saturated incoming water A cool lake bottom indicating an absence of direct volcanic interaction with lake waters An upper and lower thermal layer with differing CO2 saturations Proximity to areas with volcanic activity

Nature and flora

Plinian eruption

Plinian eruptions or Vesuvian eruptions are volcanic eruptions marked by their similarity to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which destroyed the ancient Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The eruption was described in a letter written by Pliny the Younger, after the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder.

Nature and flora

Strombolian eruption

Strombolian eruptions are relatively mild blasts with a volcanic explosivity index of about 1 to 3. They are named for the Italian volcano Stromboli. Strombolian eruptions consist of ejection of incandescent cinder, lapilli, and lava bombs, to altitudes of tens to a few hundreds of metres. The eruptions are small to medium in volume, with sporadic violence.

Nature and flora

Hatepe eruption

The Hatepe eruption, named for the Hatepe Plinian pumice tephra layer, sometimes referred to as the Taupo eruption and dated to around 180 AD, was Lake Taupo's most recent major eruption. It is considered New Zealand's largest eruption during the last 20,000 years. The eruption ejected some 120 km3 (29 cu mi), a VEI 7 eruption, of which 30 km3 (7.2 cu mi) was ejected in a few minutes. This makes it one of the most violent eruptions in the last 5000 years, comparable to the Minoan eruption in the 2nd millennium BC, the 946 eruption of Paektu Mountain and the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora. The resulting ash turned the sky red over Rome and China.

Nature and flora

Explosive eruption

In volcanology, an explosive eruption is a volcanic eruption of the most violent type. Mount St. Helens in 1980 is an example. Such eruptions result when sufficient gas has dissolved under pressure within a viscous magma such that expelled lava violently froths into volcanic ash when pressure is suddenly lowered at the vent. Sometimes a lava plug will block the conduit to the summit, and when this occurs, eruptions are more violent. Explosive eruptions can send rocks, dust, gas and pyroclastic material up to 20 km into the atmosphere at a rate of up to 100,000 tonnes per second, traveling at several hundred meters per second. This cloud may then collapse, creating a pyroclastic flow of hot volcanic matter.

Nature and flora

Phreatic eruption

A phreatic eruption, also called a phreatic explosion, ultravulcanian eruption or steam-blast eruption, occurs when magma heats ground or surface water. The extreme temperature of the magma causes near-instantaneous evaporation to steam, resulting in an explosion of steam, water, ash, rock, and volcanic bombs. At Mount St. Helens, hundreds of steam explosions preceded a 1980 plinian eruption of the volcano. A less intense geothermal event may result in a mud volcano.

Nature and flora

Vulcanian eruption

The term vulcanian was first used by Giuseppe Mercalli, witnessing the 1888–1890 eruptions on the island of Vulcano. His description of the eruption style is now used all over the world for eruptions characterised by a dense cloud of ash-laden gas exploding from the crater and rising high above the peak. Mercalli described vulcanian eruptions as "...Explosions like cannon fire at irregular intervals..." Their explosive nature is due to increased silica content of the magma. Almost all types of magma can be involved, but magma with about 55% or more silica is most common. Increasing silica levels increase the viscosity of the magma which means increased explosiveness. They usually commence with phreatomagmatic eruptions which can be extremely noisy due the rising magma heating water in the ground. This is usually followed by the explosive clearing of the vent and the eruption column is dirty grey to black as old weathered rocks are blasted out of the vent. As the vent clears, further ash clouds become grey-white and creamy in colour, with convolutions of the ash similar to those of plinian eruptions.

Nature and flora

Effusive eruption

An effusive eruption is a type of volcanic eruption in which lava steadily flows out of a volcano onto the ground. There are two major groupings of eruptions: effusive and explosive. Effusive eruption differs from explosive eruption, wherein magma is violently fragmented and rapidly expelled from a volcano. Effusive eruptions are most common in basaltic magmas, but they also occur in intermediate and felsic magmas. These eruptions form lava flows and lava domes, each of which vary in shape, length, and width. Deep in the crust, gasses are dissolved into the magma because of high pressures, but upon ascent and eruption, pressure drops rapidly, and these gasses begin to exsolve out of the melt. A volcanic eruption is effusive when the erupting magma is volatile poor, which suppresses fragmentation, creating an oozing magma which spills out of the volcanic vent and out into the surrounding area. The shape of effusive lava flows is governed by the type of lava, rate and duration of eruption, and topography of the surrounding landscape.

Nature and flora

Phreatomagmatic eruption

Phreatomagmatic eruptions are volcanic eruptions resulting from interaction between magma and water. They differ from exclusively magmatic eruptions and phreatic eruptions. Unlike phreatic eruptions, the products of phreatomagmatic eruptions contain juvenile (magmatic) clasts. It is common for a large explosive eruption to have magmatic and phreatomagmatic components.

Nature and flora

Hawaiian eruption

A Hawaiian eruption is a type of volcanic eruption where lava flows from the vent in a relatively gentle, low level eruption; it is so named because it is characteristic of Hawaiian volcanoes. Typically they are effusive eruptions, with basaltic magmas of low viscosity, low content of gases, and high temperature at the vent. Very small amounts of volcanic ash are produced. This type of eruption occurs most often at hotspot volcanoes such as Kīlauea on Hawaii's big island and in Iceland, though it can occur near subduction zones and rift zones. Another example of Hawaiian eruptions occurred on the island of Surtsey in Iceland from 1964 to 1967, when molten lava flowed from the crater to the sea.

Nature and flora

Lateral eruption

A lateral eruption, also called a flank eruption or lateral blast if explosive, is a volcanic eruption that takes place on the flanks of a volcano instead of at the summit. Lateral eruptions are typical at rift zones where a volcano is breaking apart. Since it is easier for molten rock to flow laterally out the sides of weak flanks, the flank gives way before magma is pushed up through a conduit that feeds magma to the summit. These features are commonly found at shield volcanoes and produce basaltic lava flows and cinder cones.

Nature and flora

Peléan eruption

Peléan eruptions are a type of volcanic eruption. They can occur when viscous magma, typically of rhyolitic or andesitic type, is involved, and share some similarities with Vulcanian eruptions. The most important characteristic of a Peléan eruption is the presence of a glowing avalanche of hot volcanic ash, a pyroclastic flow. Formation of lava domes is another characteristic. Short flows of ash or creation of pumice cones may be observed as well.

Nature and flora

Surtseyan eruption

A Surtseyan eruption is a type of volcanic eruption that takes place in shallow seas or lakes. It is named after the island of Surtsey off the southern coast of Iceland.