Big volcanoes wake up fast

Crystal chemistry suggests magma changes quickly before a huge eruption

2:16pm, February 1, 2012

Long-slumbering volcanoes can jolt to life faster than students drinking Red Bull, a new study suggests.

Studies of millennia-old rocks that erupted at Santorini, Greece, show that the chemical composition of its magma changed just a few decades before the volcano blew its top around 1600 B.C. That blast came after 18,000 years of relative calm.

“All this happens at a very late stage relative to this long period of repose,” says Tim Druitt, a volcanologist at the Blaise Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand, France. “There’s kind of a rapid wake up.”

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