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Magma Composition at Volcanoes

Magma composition determines the type of eruption a volcano may have.

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Journey to the Center of a Volcano

Journey to the Center of a Volcano

Credit: Uaiecs
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iceland_thrihnukagigur-volcano_inside_of_crater.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

So you can’t journey to the center of the Earth. Amazingly, you can visit the inside of a volcano! After about an hour walk across a lava plain, you descend 400 feet into the crater on a cable lift.

Amazing But True!

  • Iceland is built of shield volcanoes. Atop the shield volcanoes are many cinder cones. Thrihnukagigur is a small cinder cone that last erupted about 4,000 years ago. In nearly all volcanoes the last of the magma cools in the chamber. Somehow at Thrihnukagigur the magma drained out of the magma chamber at during its last eruption. The empty magma chamber is huge, with ground space equal to nearly three basketball courts side by side. The Statue of Liberty could fit inside!
  • Not only adventurers visit the heart of this volcano. Volcanologists enter it to learn how magma feeds volcanic eruptions. Thrihnukagigur is a unique and valuable volcano.

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With the links below, learn more about what scientists have learned by visiting the inside of Thrihnukagigur volcano. Then answer the following questions.

  1. When the volcanologists look into the fracture, what do they see?
  2. How from which direction(s) does magma get pumped into a magma chamber?
  3. How did the scientists find the route of the magma during the last eruption?
  4. What is the important discovery that volcanologists made when visiting the inside of Thrihnukagigur volcano?
  5. Do volcanoes in Iceland have completely separate plumbing systems?

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