Global Warming, Melting Ice Caps Could Help Trigger More Volcanic Eruptions

patagonia volcano photo

photo: Bitteroot via flickr.

Continuing the all volcanos all the time theme we've got going at the moment... Though it's unlikely the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano will have any impact on global climate, and it's equally unlikely that climate change is to blame for the eruption itself, Reuters has found some scientists who point out that in the future, as ice caps around the world continue to melt, it could in fact help trigger more volcanic eruptions.Cutting to the chase, here is vulcanologist Freysteinn Sigmundsson:
"Our work suggests that eventually there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in Iceland in coming decades."

The 'our' in that sentence refers to his colleague Carolina Pagli, a geophysicist at the University of Leeds who says climate change could help trigger eruptions in Antarctica, the Aleutian islands in Alaska, and in Patagonia.

Pagli says this is because, "If you remove a load that is big enough you will also have an effect at depths on magma production."

When high pressures exist under an ice cap Sigmundsson and Pagli say rocks cannot expand to turn into magma, even if temperatures are hot enough. However as ice melts, the pressure decreases, and magma can be formed.

Read more: Ice cap thaw may awaken Icelandic volcanoes
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More on Natural Disasters:
Global Warming Versus the Volcano: Could Eruptions Slow Climate Change?
Volcanic Haze Closes British Airports, Continent Cut Off
Toxic Volcanic Ash Threatens Animals in Iceland

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