Magma is accumulating beneath Europe: could new volcanoes emerge?

Published by Adrien - Tuesday, May 14, 2024 - Other Languages: FR, DE, ES, PT
Source: GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

In the Vogtland region, on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, an unusual series of earthquakes could indicate deep magma movements. This phenomenon, away from tectonic plate boundaries, is intriguing scientists at the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).

Geophysicist Torsten Dahm and his team recently installed a new network of seismometers specifically designed for this area. These instruments recorded a swarm of earthquakes at the end of March that was different from previous ones. Unlike the others, this new swarm shifted its epicenter about 9 miles (15 kilometers) north and occurred along an almost horizontal structure, rather than a vertical fault.

This observation suggests a complex seismic situation. Is the magma itself rising from the mantle to the crust, or are these tremors triggered by fluids and gases from the magma? Although there are no active volcanoes in the area, and little evidence of ancient volcanic activity, the most likely cause of the tremblings would be the emission of carbon dioxide from magmatic fluids approximately 31 miles (50 kilometers) deep.

Compressive forces in the crust might prevent these magmas from erupting, but they could accumulate in the crust over time. This could mean the potential emergence of new volcanoes in thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of years.
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