Scientists: Mount Rainier Will Erupt Again

Image: Scientists: Mount Rainier Will Erupt Again

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 02:28 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Scientists have determined that Mount Rainier volcano will erupt again, but the question of when remains unanswered.

Using a recently developed scientific method, a study at the University of Utah was able to "map" Rainier's magma "plumbing" by measuring how quickly the Earth conducts electricity and seismic waves, the Daily Digest News reported.

"This is the most direct image yet capturing the melting process that feeds magma into a crustal reservoir that eventually is tapped for eruptions," geophysicist Phil Wannamaker of the university's Energy & Geoscience Institute and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, told the Daily Digest News.

"But it does not provide any information on the timing of future eruptions from Mount Rainier or other Cascade Range volcanoes."

Most of the volcano's magma reservoir is located somewhere between six and 10 miles northwest of it, unlike other volcanoes where the magma reservoir tends to be located underneath.

In the case of Rainier, it is buried about five miles under the surface, and appears to be five to 10 miles thick, and five to 10 miles wide in east-west extent, Wannamaker said.

Magma could also be sitting under Rainier but the 80 electrical sensors in the experiment were placed in a 190-mile-long, west-to-east line roughly 12 miles north of the volcano, so would not have detected it, the Daily Digest News reported.

The scientists estimate that 30 percent of the reservoir is molten, while the remaining 70 percent is in a sponge-like state.

The volcanic flows of Rainier are believed to be roughly 36 million years old. The U.S. Geological Survey describes Rainier as "an active volcano that will erupt again," the Daily Digest News reported.

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