'Champagne Effect' Could Help Predict Volcanic Eruptions

Earthquakes can set off volcanoes by shaking up molten rock like champagne in a bottle until they explode, a study suggests.

The research shows that volcanoes erupt up to four times more often after a large earthquake than they would without the seismic agitation.

The effects of an earthquake can be felt hundreds of miles from the epicenter and are powerful enough to wake dormant volcanoes.

However, it can take so long for a surge of molten rock to build up enough pressure to cause an eruption that several months can elapse between the trigger and the volcanic explosion.

The link between volcanoes and earthquakes has long been suspected, but the new research has provided the first statistical evidence.

Researchers at the University of Oxford identified the "champagne effect" after analyzing records of volcanoes and earthquakes in southern Chile, the region where Charles Darwin first speculated on the likely link in 1835.

The research team found that the pattern of eruptions over the past 150 years showed a noticeable increase for a year after large earthquakes.

"The most unexpected part of this discovery was the considerable distance from the earthquake rupture where these eruptions took place, and the length of time for which we saw increased volcanic activity," said Sebastian Watt, one of the researchers.

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