Home Science Chinese volcano thought extinct may be 'recharging' to eruption

Chinese volcano thought extinct may be 'recharging' to eruption

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Volcano in China that was believed to be extinct may now be ‘recharging,’ experts say after discovering chambers filled with molten lava beneath the surface

  • Experts created a 3D map underneath the  Wieshan volcano in China
  • The volcano last erupted 500,000 years ago and was said to be extinct
  • Following the analysis, the team found two chambers filled with molten rock
  • Magma was found to occupy 15 percent of the chambers 
  • Studies have suggested a chamber needs to be filled 40 percent for an eruption 

The Wieshan volcano, which sits in northeast China, was considered extinct – until now.

Scientists believe the volcano that last erupted over 500,000 years ago may be ‘recharging’ after discovering two huge magma chambers beneath the surface.

Wieshan is part of the Wudalianchi volcanic field that stretches 193 square miles and consist of 14 cinder cones surrounded by lava flows.

The team captured a 3D image under Wieshan, allowing them to see chambers in the upper and middle crust filled with magma.

Calculations show that 15 percent of the upper chamber is now occupied by molten rock –studies have suggested an area needs to be at 40 percent for the volcano to erupt.

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The Wieshan volcano, which sits in northeast China, was considered extinct – until now. Scientists believe the volcano that last erupted over 500,000 years ago may be'recharging' after discovering two huge magma chambers beneath the surface

The Wieshan volcano, which sits in northeast China, was considered extinct – until now. Scientists believe the volcano that last erupted over 500,000 years ago may be ‘recharging’ after discovering two huge magma chambers beneath the surface

‘Considering the significant melt fractions and active earthquakes and tremors occurring around magma reservoirs, the Weishan volcano is likely in an active stage with magma recharging,’ reads the study published by the University of Science and Technology of China in GeoScienceWorld.

‘Therefore, it needs more active monitoring for better forecasting of its potential future eruptions.’

Prior to the discovery, geologists have kept their focus on Changbai, or also known as Paektu Mountain, to the south.

This volcano erupted in 946 AD and is deemed one of the most powerful volcanic events on record – the fallout zone stretched from Japan to Greenland, South China Morning Post reports.

The team captured a 3D image under Wieshan, allowing them to see chambers in the upper and middle crust filled with magma

The team captured a 3D image under Wieshan, allowing them to see chambers in the upper and middle crust filled with magma

However, researchers in the latest study theorize that the volcanic fields of Changbai and Wieshan, or Wei, ‘would be linked to some degree.’

To conduct the investigation into Wei, the team used sensors to create a 3D map of what lies below the structure.

And this method led to the discovery of the two magma filled chambers.

Researchers believe the middle crust may be a source to ‘recharge the magma chamber in the upper crust.’

The team noted that seismic activity had increased at Changbai from 2002 to 2005, suggesting ‘magmatic activity beneath the volcano was increased’.

And its most recent eruption was in 1903.

Researcher noted in the study that the ‘volcanic activity in northeast China is likely to be in an active stage, and active volcanic monitoring is needed to further understand the magmatic systems in this region’.

Wie Mountain sits in the northeast region of China and north of Chanbai Mountain

Wie Mountain sits in the northeast region of China and north of Chanbai Mountain

Calculations show that 15 percent of the upper chamber is now occupied by molten rock –studies have suggested an area needs to be at 40 percent for the volcano to erupt

Calculations show that 15 percent of the upper chamber is now occupied by molten rock –studies have suggested an area needs to be at 40 percent for the volcano to erupt

However, other experts not involved with the study are skeptical about the findings.

Xu Jiandong, director of the volcanic research division at the China Earthquake Administration in Beijing, told South China Morning Post: ‘If there really are huge magma chambers in the area, we should have detected some related seismic activities – when the lower chamber recharges the upper one, there should be some movement.’

‘But so far, after decades of monitoring on the site, we’ve picked up almost nothing. The whole area has been very, very quiet.’

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