Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lava pool measurements may predict next eruption of Vesuvius

Image: volcanoThe magma pool feeding the Italian volcano that destroyed Pompeii in AD 79 has shifted in the past 2,000 years, a discovery that could help in predicting future eruptions, researchers said in the journal Nature.

Vesuvius is in southern Italy near Naples, one of the most densely populated volcanic regions in the world. Its crater is 4,200 feet above and 13 miles away from Naples, Italy's third largest city.

Scientists had thought the pool remained constant over the past 4,000 years but new investigations detailed on Wednesday showed the chamber had actually shifted higher between the Pompeii eruption in AD 79 and the Pollena one in AD 472.Knowing the location of the lava pool is important because more pressure builds up the deeper a pool is, resulting in more powerful eruptions, said Michel Pichavant, a geologist at the University of Orleans in France, who worked on the study.

The findings can help build more accurate models to predict damage from future eruptions by factoring in the movement of these pools, he said. - More

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