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Research — Volcanology

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There are 10 projects that match your criteria:
Uplift of the Tibetan Plateau: Insights from cosmogenic exposure ages of young lava flows
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The Tibetan plateau is a product of the most dramatic tectonic event of recent geological history: the collision of the Indian sub-continent with Eurasia. In spite of the topographic and tectonic implications of the plateau, the mechanisms for its uplift remain controversial. The controversy is in large part a result of poorly constrained uplift history. Types of evidence that have been adduced for the uplift history include paleoecological date, cooling histories of plutonic and igneous rocks, and geomorphic interpretations. Some lines of evidence indicate relatively gradual uplift since the mid-Tertiary, while others support rapid acceleration of uplift during the latest Cenozoic, with the greatest portion during the Quaternary.

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Bureau scientists in Antarctica uncover climate knowledge frozen in time
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Bureau scientists study Antarctic volcano to better understand ice sheet behavior

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Volcanic record in Antarctic ice
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Volcanic ash and associated aerosol layers in glacier ice offer a uniquely complete record of explosive volcanism. Investigation of these layers, both in bare ice areas of and in ice cores offers insight into eruptive processes, local and regional ice flow processes, and the impact of eruptions on global systems (climate and ozone depletion). The Antarctic ice sheet is an ideal place to preserve a record of volcanic eruptions. The combination of chemical fingerprinting of glass shards, and chemical analysis of volcanic aerosols associated with tephra layers in Antarctic blue ice allows establishment of a high-resolution chronology of local and distant volcanism that can help understand patterns of significant explosive volcanism, atmospheric loading, and climatic effects associated with volcanic eruptions.

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Tephra layers in Rio Grande Rift Sediments
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The Jemez Mountains volcanic field, in northwestern New Mexico, has been active for at least the past 16.5 million years, and has produced a large number of explosive and effusive volcanic eruptions during that time. Volcanic ash from the Jemez Mountains volcanic field provides a temporal record of the young eruptions from the caldera and many such deposits have been recognized in a number locations in New Mexico. The ash is present as thick deposits near the eruptive source, and as thinner deposits interbedded in ancestral Rio Grande river sediments at greater distances from the vent.

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Ignimbrite Calderas
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Ignimbrite calderas are large volcanic depressions, often 10-20 miles in diameter, that form when a large-volume, gas-charged viscous magma body ejects huge columns of ash that collapse and inundate the surrounding countryside with a thick blanket of welded ash (called ignimbrite) while the shallow roof of the chamber collapses. Caldera-forming eruptions are relatively rare catastrophic events, second only in scale to large asteroid impacts. Deep magma systems that feed these "supervolcanoes" appear to march to the beat of there own drummer; eruptions are both episodic and irregular in timing and intensity.

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Ice layers in Antarctica hold secrets to the global climate past
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A team of scientists from the Bureau of Geology has spent many Antarctic summers sampling layers of volcanic ash trapped between layers of ice to learn about climate conditions that existed at the time of the ice deposition. While the volcanic ash can be dated to constrain the time of deposition, oxygen isotope signatures in the ice reveal clues about temperatures that existed as the layers were deposited.

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The Magdalena Radial Dike Swarm
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The Magdalena radial dike swarm (MRDS) is a large diameter (200- 250 km) radial array of basaltic-andesite dikes of Oligocene age broadly focused on the large volume (7000 km3) Socorro-Magdalena caldera cluster (SMCC) of the central Rio Grande rift. Five large overlapping calderas of the SMCC range in age from 32.5 to 24.7 Ma and show a pattern of migrating to the southwest over a distance of about 80 km during a period of about 8 million years.

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New Mexico's Volcanic Hazards
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photo by: Colin Cikowski

New Mexico is home to many hundreds of volcanoes that erupted during the last several million years. However, the exact timing of these eruptions has proven difficult to determine by many previous studies. An ongoing NSF-funded project, led by NM Bureau of Geology researcher Matthew Zimmerer, examines the timing of eruptions during the last 500,000 years in order to understand the patterns of volcanism in space and time. This information provides the foundation for an assessment of volcanic hazards in New Mexico.

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Precursors to Supereruptions at the Valles Caldera, New Mexico
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Matt Zimmerer

Despite recognition as one the most iconic volcanoes on the planet, there is still much to learn about Valles caldera in north-central NM. A new collaboration between researchers at the Bureau and from UT Austin is seeking to understand the events leading up to supereruptions. In particular, the team is studying the Cerro Toledo Formation, a group of volcanic domes and related ashes that erupted between the large caldera forming events at 1.61 and 1.23 million-years-ago.

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Spatial and temporal variations in voluminous caldera volcanism in southern New Mexico
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Masters of Science student, Karissa Vermillion, from New Mexico State University received an award for her proposal and will be mentored by Dr. Jake Ross.

The New Mexico Geochronology Research Laboratory (NMGRL) is a participant in the “Awards for Geochronology Student Research” program (AGeS2 ). AGeS2 grants are funded by the National Science Foundation Earthscope program, in conjunction with the Geological Society of America, and are designed to link students with geochronology laboratories to facilitate in depth student understanding of geochronology methods with hands on experience ultimately leading to publication of new data.

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