Volcanic relics scattered across the Australian landscape represent a map of the continent's northward movement over a "hotspot" within the Earth over the last 35 million years.

Dr Tamini Tapu, Associate Professor Teresa Ubide, and Professor Paulo Vasconcelos from the University of Queensland discovered how these relics revealed the inner structure of Australian volcanoes became increasingly complex as the hotspot's magma output decreased.

Giant Volcanic 'Chain' Spills Secrets On Inner Workings Of Volcanoes


(Photo : DEVI RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr. Al-Tamini Tapu, whose PhD project at UQ's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences served as the foundation for this study, said the hotspot was incredibly strong in its early stages, spawning some of eastern Australia's most beloved natural attractions.

Dr. Tapu stated, "These large volcanoes were active for up to seven million years."

The volcanoes formed when the continent passed over a stationary hotspot inside the planet, melting the land above it and allowing magma to ooze upwards, as per ScienceDaily.

This left a trove of volcanic landmarks in its wake, forming the world's longest chain of continental hotspot volcanoes along Australia's eastern coast.

Along this massive chain, you'll find Queensland volcanoes, like the Glass House Mountains and Tweed Volcano, which are referred to as shield volcanoes and are visited by countless locals and tourists each year.

Massive, long-lived lava outpourings from Tweed volcano may have weakened the hotspot, causing the younger volcanoes to the south to shrink and become shorter-lived.

This showed the changes that occurred as the continent shifted over the weakening hotspot.

According to Associate Professor Teresa Ubide, as magma production decreased, the volcanoes became more complicated internally, erupting lavas rich in complex crystals.

These little heroes reveal the inner workings of the volcano and inform us that the late Australian volcanoes were full of magma pockets, or reservoirs.

As these cooled and became more viscous, it became more difficult to generate potentially explosive eruptions.

Ubide discovered that the arrival of new, hotter, and gas-rich magma acts like a shaken bottle of fizzy drink, causing pressure to build up in the magma and, eventually, an eruption.

Dr. Ubide believed that Australia's extinct hotspot volcanoes provide a unique laboratory for researchers to study the processes that lead to volcanic eruptions around the world.

Because of the effect of erosion over tens of millions of years, we can access complete lava sequences that are difficult to access in more recent volcanoes.

It then allows us to reconstruct the inner structure of the volcanoes, similar to opening a doll's house, giving us a much better understanding of global hotspot activity.

This is especially significant given the number of active hotspots on Earth, including those in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, as well as on other continents, such as the Yellowstone volcano in the United States.

Volcanoes in these areas produce large amounts of lava and play an important role in the evolution of our planet and atmosphere, so having a real-world doll's house to experiment with and observe variations with time and magma supply is extremely beneficial.

Their research demonstrates the critical role that the strength of heat anomalies within the Earth has played in the evolution of our planet and its landscape over millions of years.

Also Read: Lascar Volcano: Chile Issues 'Orange Alert' Amid Fears of Volcanic Eruption

Dangers of Volcanic Eruption

Volcanoes erupt with hot, dangerous gases, ash, lava, and rock that are extremely destructive. Volcanic blasts have killed people, as per the CDC.

Volcanic eruptions can cause additional health risks, such as flooding, mudslides, power outages, contaminated drinking water, and wildfires.

Infectious disease, respiratory illness, burns, injuries from falls, and vehicle accidents caused by ash are all health concerns following a volcanic eruption.

When warnings are followed, the likelihood of adverse health effects from a volcanic eruption is extremely low.

Ash exposure can be hazardous.

If infants, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and other chronic lung diseases breathe in volcanic ash, they may experience complications.

Ash is an abrasive, gritty substance that is sometimes corrosive and always unpleasant. Small ash particles can abrade (scratch) the cornea.

Ash particles may contain crystalline silica, a material that causes silicosis, a respiratory disease.

The majority of a volcano's gases quickly dissipate. Heavy gases, such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, can, however, accumulate in low-lying areas.

Water vapor is the most common volcanic gas, followed by carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Sulfur dioxide can cause breathing problems in both healthy people and those suffering from asthma or other respiratory issues.

Hydrogen chloride, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen fluoride are some of the other volcanic gases.

The concentrations of these gases vary greatly from one volcanic eruption to the next.

Although gases usually dissipate quickly, people who live near the volcano or in low-lying areas downwind may be exposed to levels that are hazardous to their health.

Gases can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat at low levels.

Gases at higher concentrations can cause rapid breathing, headache, dizziness, throat swelling and spasm, and suffocation.

Related article: Mauna Loa, Hawaii's Biggest Volcano, is Currently in an Active Phase

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