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Press Release 10-219

Months of Geologic Unrest Signaled Reawakening of Icelandic Volcano

Monitoring volcanoes helps researchers understand the processes that drive them to erupt

Illustration of eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland.


Schematic showing "plumbing" of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland and timing of its acti
Credit and Larger Version


November 18, 2010

Months of volcanic restlessness preceded the eruptions this spring of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, providing insight into what roused it from its centuries of slumber.

An international team of researchers analyzed geophysical changes in the long-dormant volcano leading up to its eruptions in March and April 2010. In a study published in the Nov. 18 issue of the journal Nature, the scientists suggest that magma flowing beneath the volcano may have triggered its reawakening.

"Several months of unrest preceded the eruptions, with magma moving around downstairs in the plumbing and making noise in the form of earthquakes," says study co-author Kurt Feigl, a professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "By monitoring volcanoes, we can understand the processes that drive them to erupt."

Feigl's research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation through a RAPID award (Grant for Rapid Response Research).

More information on this work is available in the University of Wisconsin-Madison press release.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Maria C. Zacharias, NSF, (703) 292-8454, mzachari@nsf.gov
Jill Sakai, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 608-262-9772, jasakai@wisc.edu

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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